Officials of the Higher Education Funding Council for England have been discussing with the department for business a mechanism that could enable universities to become private institutions able to raise fees above the new $13,400 (£9,000) cap. Officials are exploring whether universities could keep state funding for research, but opt out of government cash for teaching and student loans. They would also escape much of the regulation imposed by the Office for Fair Access, which polices the social composition of universities’ student intakes. Universities would also have to negotiate loan schemes with the banks to enable them to offer loans on comparable terms to the government. Recent fee increases, replacing cuts in government teaching funding of some 80%, is reducing universities’ financial dependence on the state, leading many to wonder if it still makes sense to be subject to stringent national regulation.
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