A story in today’s New York Times (NYT) contemplates the ongoing unrest among British students over a proposed tuition hike in 2012 which is to be accompanied by a cut-back in the number of student admissions. The proposed hike involves increasing the tuition cap to £9,000 per year from its current £3,290 level. While the government is arguing that the impending changes will result in a higher caliber student body, university and student advocates claim that cutting back on student admission will harm national innovation and national growth.
According to the Guardian, applications for 2011 admission increased by 2.5% before Christmas in anticipation of the upcoming tuition hike and admissions freeze. This translates into an additional 8,000 candidates this year chasing the same number of places as last year.
The only silver lining (if it can be called that) for those of us in the sciences is the government’s decision to cushion the blow for science students. According to the Times “there would still be some government support for science, technology, medicine, nursing and “strategically important languages.” Government-funded loans to cover the fees would be available, to be repaid only after students graduate and are earning more than £21,000 a year.”
All this begs the question, do you believe that Britain is harming its innovative future or is it simply “weeding out the chaff” so that the cream of the crop will rise to the top? Also, as a scientist, are you reassured by the government’s support for science or do you believe that science and research will be equally harmed by the government’s actions?
Late last year, thousands of students took to the street in violent protest.