British students could be paying more for universities

Police prepare barriers outside of Parliament to control protesters of university tuition hikes.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The British government today is expected to vote on a controversial tuition hike for higher education. Thousands of students are expected in London to protest. Of course, questions about the costs of college resonate here at home.

From London, Marketplace's Stephen Beard us with us live to talk about all this. Hi Stephen.

STEPHEN BEARD: Hello Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: What's the British government proposing?

BEARD: The government wants to make a very deep cut in the amount of cash that it puts into higher education. So it wants students to pay as much as three times more for tuition than they do at present. Under this plan, students could wind up paying up to $14,000 a year to go to university. They'd pay it after graduating, and only if they can afford it.

CHIOTAKIS: $14,000? That would be considered a darn good deal for college here in the U.S.

BEARD: Right but you have to bear in mind that it wasn't that long ago in Britain that tuition was free for students. Tax payers picked up the entire tab. It's the tripling of the burden on many students that's causing the fury. And Aaron Porter, a student leader, claims that it will effectively price many young people out of a university education.

AARON PORTER: The proposals here from this government will see English universities become the most expensive public universities in the world. I'm not saying graduates shouldn't pay anything. I am saying it is completely outrageous to ask them to pay the most expensive prices in the world.

BEARD: Now, as you say, many Americans would dispute that, but a key difference between the UK and the U.S. is that Britain doesn't have anything like the array of grants and scholarships that have been built up in the U.S.

CHIOTAKIS: The vote is today. How are people reacting, Stephen?

BEARD: Most worrying for the government has been the big splits in its own ranks. Some members of the governments say they're going to oppose this measure. It looks as if it will squeak through, but without any doubt, this will be the government's toughest test -- its roughest day in its campaign to cut the budget deficit.

CHIOTAKIS: Stephen, thanks.

BEARD: OK Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: Marketplace's Stephen Beard, reporting from London.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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