Fees hike is only realistic way to raise funds, says Oxford head
INCREASING student fees is the only realistic way for governments to raise funds if taxpayers are unwilling to pay more for higher education, the chancellor of Oxford University, Chris Patten, said yesterday.
Speaking in Dublin, the former governor of Hong Kong, said it was "perverse" to ask poorer workers to pay higher taxes in order to give the better-off the opportunity to earn more.
Mr Patten said all the research had shown the biggest factor determining a person's lifestyle was a university degree.
When asked about government plans to increase registration charges, he said: "I am not sure how else a government would provide the quality higher education that is needed.
"In the absence of money bearing trees, if we want quality in higher education and are not prepared to pay higher taxes, then the money has to be found."
Unemployment among graduates in Ireland and the UK is now approaching 10pc. But Mr Patten insisted this was only a temporary situation.
Mr Patten, who chaired the police commission in the North, stressed this was also a wider European issue.
"We are banging on about making Europe the most competitively based economy in the world, while spending half as much as the Americans on higher education," he said.
The US currently spends about 3pc of GDP on universities and research, compared to 1.4-1.5pc in Europe.
Mr Patten was in Dublin to launch the 10th anniversary celebrations of Hibernia College, an online institution offering courses up to PhD level.