Tuition fees architect says even Tories will turn against them thanks to vice-chancellors’ ‘cartel’

Cameron and Clegg accused of destroying Blair's sensible scheme


Andrew Adonis, the former education minister who initially introduced tuition fees, has predicted that both Labour and the Tories will call for their abolition going into the next election.

In an article for the Times, the architect of Tony Blair’s fees scheme, introduced in 2004, defends the initial plan as ‘a sensible idea’, which applied moderate charges to counter the under-funding of universities, while providing zero-interest loan schemes for poorer students.

However, Adonis claims the scheme was ‘wrecked by David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s decision to treble them overnight, and by the greed and complacency of vice-chancellors [VCs] who thought they were a licence to print money.’

As critical as he is of Cameron and Clegg, his most vicious contempt is reserved for the university leaders:

“The VCs were soon congratulating themselves on the continued success of their cartel, and awarded themselves huge pay increases. Bath university’s boss pocketed £450,000 last year and average pay is more than £275,000. Ministers should have intervened to break the cartel and curb these excesses, but didn’t.”

From there, it was inevitable that student resentment would snowball as young people found themselves starting out with debts of more than £50,000. Since young voters richly rewarded Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal to scrap tuition fees in this election, Adonis sees no reason that Labour would abandon the promise in the next campaign.

Meanwhile, since the Tories have virtually no support among students and academics, he believes that they will have little choice but to follow suit.

He concludes:

“So VCs need to start planning for real austerity. The flow of money from £9,000 fees will soon dry up. They could set an example and halve their salaries.”

Of course, student activists groups which have opposed the introduction of fees from the beginning will not agree that their abolition is any cause for dismay.

Like this article? Left Foot Forward relies on support from readers to sustain our progressive journalism. Can you become a supporter for £5 a month?

3 Responses to “Tuition fees architect says even Tories will turn against them thanks to vice-chancellors’ ‘cartel’”

  1. Ben Cosin

    It is not merely future fees that are an issue; the conditions attached to those already deeply indebted are a serious threat to many thousands of graduates whose debts are increasing – and unpredictably, since the students loan finance company has apparent carte blanche to raise the interest rate; and the threshold for the obligation to repay is not increased with inflation or increased wage levels – so that ever poorer cohorts of graduates are obliged to pay up. Root and branch reform of this historic injustice is long overdue.

  2. RobD

    Awful policy from New Labour. It was always going to lead to ever increasing prices and spiralling student debt.

  3. Jim Lockie

    Obviously, a social and political disaster to increase fees to students and abolish zero rate interest for poorer students. Total independence of universities has allowed pay and staff cuts to lecturers+ big pay increases to Top management.
    Decision now taken by Labour, (to be followed by Tories?), for massive extra spend on students. Done deal, extra £11bn over 5 yrs. More than offered to NHS or school education. Politically, that obviously has paid off. Thought has now to be given to the quality of university education and its purpose.
    Why do so many graduates find it difficult to get suitable employment at a time of very high jobs vacancy level? Why do so many employers find graduates and other young people unprepared and untrained for jobs?
    Just throwing money at things does not always solve the problem!

Leave a Reply