News has come about regarding the sale of the Charitable College of Law to a private equity firm, who now has degree awarding powers....
UK Higher Education has not been the same since fees were introduced by New Labour in 1998, based on a report commissioned by the Conservatives in 1996. UK Higher Education has grown massively and with that come extra costs, so it seemed it was inevitable that there would be a charge to bridge this gap. Scotland however decided not to introduce fees for native Scottish residents, and even scrapped their graduate endowment.
Scottish Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop said ""We believe access to education should be based on ability to learn, not ability to pay"
In the rest of the UK however, it started off with means tested fees of up to £1000. See The Dearing report. Now we are in the year 2012 and the price of university education is up to a whopping £9000 per year. This time introduced by the coalition government made up of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. There is also the creation of new private universities, like the New College of the Humanities who want to charge £18,000 per year and now the sale of universities to private equity firms.
Who owns our universities? The students pay for them, private companies can create them and sell them. What is to become of our once public Higher Education system? Will the best lecturers/ researchers move to the high paying private sector? Meaning that only the rich will be able to access these great minds? Maybe I shall just move to Scotland so my children don't have to pay what could be mortgage scale fees. It could end up being a choice for our children on whether to get a university education or buy a house. Only the rich will go to university, unless in the future the government continues to gives access to student loans to cover costs and there are still enough public universities left to take them!
Edit : new article by the Guardian Could universities be sold off? raises an interesting perspective about the quality of degrees from private providers with no experience in education.