Do UK tuition fees need to rise?

A recent report published by The Russell Group, which represents 20 elite research universities in the UK, warms that tuition fees must rise if UK universities are to keep their global reputations and stay competitive.

The report advocates the funding of research-intensive universities, which “train the researchers and innovators who are indispensable to the future success of UK business and industry.” It advocates their role in driving future growth and prosperity, also highlighting their high current economic output.

This, however, comes with a warning. The report states that although the UK’s universities are currently ‘world-class’, “the current system of higher education funding is failing to provide sufficient resources to sustain a cadre of world-leading research-intensive universities.” Other countries, it warns, invest far more in their universities, and many, including the US and France, have actually increased their funding during the recession.

This theme is continued, stating that although funding has increased as a result of the introduction of variable fees, this was needed to rectify under funding throughout the 1980s and 1990s. As such, the report suggests that although Russell Group universities continue to seek innovative new sources of income, a rise in tuition fees is necessary to fund teaching.

Source: “Staying on top: The challenge of sustaining world-class higher education in the UK”. Russell Group Papers – Issue 2, 2010. (Available at