April 19, 2011 4.53 pm This story is over 158 months old

Barry Turner: £9K Lincoln – What the future holds

Comment: Barry Turner argues the University of Lincoln will be fine, even after trebling tuition fees.

Apocalyptic predictions that Lincoln will be ‘ghost town’ as a result of the university charging maximum fees, is as usual with such stories sensationalist rather than informative.

The University of Lincoln announced that it will charge the maximum allowable at £9,000 per year from 2012.

But a survey carried out by LV= Home Insurance warned of the effects of students reassessing their finances and living arrangements and staying at home to study rather than coming to Lincoln.

Some rather curious statistics are quoted in the report and some even more curious comparisons with other university towns in England and Wales.

Quite how a predicted 30% drop in applications amounts to a 43% drop in student numbers is unclear from the survey, as is how a town with a single university compares with cities of three times the population and containing more than one university?

Speaking as a university lecturer who has the pleasure of examining ‘statistics’ in both the media and in student work, I would say that the research methodology is flawed and the statistical prediction dubious.

There is no doubt that student fees will over the next few years cause prospective students to re-examine their plans for higher education.

This is just as likely to have positive effects in that students will be more discerning in their choices of courses, leading to higher motivation and better quality degrees.

It is possible that there will be a downturn in student numbers in the short-term. The long-term future is far more secure.

University education is still the key to a professional and usually higher paid future career. Put bluntly, a university education is a necessity in many careers.

In ideology I am opposed to tuition fees, as a pragmatist they are here to stay. We had apocalyptic predictions when fees went up to £3,000 as well, yet the sky did not in fact fall in.

Universities in the United States charge in many cases much higher fees than their UK equivalents. They are still full.

Will students really stay at home to study? Most students have long had this option and have long rejected it.

Leaving home is part of the university experience and has always represented a cost even in the halcyon days of maintenance grants. It is unlikely that the dramatic hike in fees will affect this aspect of the student’s choice.

Barry Turner is a Senior Lecturer in War Reporting and Human Rights and a member of the Royal United Services Institute.