William Cullerne Browne has published an open letter to the House of Lords today in which he argues that the principle elements of the government’s case are weakly formulated.
He identifies three central claims made by Vince Cable in his speech in the Commons debate last Thursday: that the reforms are necessary because of the deficit, that they are progressive, and that they are necessary for the long-term financial stability of universities. None of these claims are robustly based on evidence. The report by HEPI, highlighted previously on these pages, shows that the government’s case is based on ‘smoke and mirrors’: the cost of university funding will still be borne by taxpayers. As for its progressive credentials, the evidence of the reports done Institute for Fiscal Studies is at best ambiguous, and, it might be added that the government’s case refuses to take on board the deterrent effect of taking on a high debt, which will disproportionately affect young people from poor backgrounds. And as for the long-term financial stability of universities, the government has rejected one of the basic premises of the Brown report — that universities need more money. The full article can be read here.