It’s been a while since Oxford, Cambridge and some other key UK universities have been adequately funded to provide the quality of education for which they are famous. The tuition fees charged to UK students are set by the government and are very low by international standards, which is a good thing, but the top-up provided by the state doesn’t come close to covering the costs, even though the overall costs per student of Oxford and Cambridge are tiny when compared, for example, to Harvard, Stanford and Yale.
The Labour government has a dilemma: it can’t be seen to be subsidising heavily what are still thought by many to be toffs’ universities (despite the positive discrimination in favour of state schools in recent years). But neither do they want Oxbridge to ‘go private’ and become even more exclusive, though I think this must be inevitable in the long term.
This Times article talks about plans at Oxford to reduce the number of UK students in favour of more international ones, who can be charged higher prices.
The concept of paying for excellence is so far off anybody’s political map these days that it’s not worth discussing…