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The end of free college in England: Implications for enrolments, equity, and quality

Wyness, G; Murphy, R; Scott Clayton, J; (2019) The end of free college in England: Implications for enrolments, equity, and quality. Economics of Education Review , 71 pp. 7-22. 10.1016/j.econedurev.2018.11.007. Green open access

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Abstract

Despite increasing financial pressures on higher education systems throughout the world, many governments remain resolutely opposed to the introduction of tuition fees, and some countries and states where tuition fees have been long established are now reconsidering free higher education. This paper examines the consequences of charging tuition fees on university enrolments, equity, and proxies for institutional quality. To do so, we study the English higher education system which has, in just two decades, moved from a free college system to one in which tuition fees are among the highest in the world. Our findings suggest that England's shift has resulted in increased funding per head and rising enrolments, with no apparent widening of the participation gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students. The role of fees is moderated by other key features of higher education finance which may differ across countries: in contrast to other systems with high tuition fees, the English system is distinct in that its income-contingent loan system ensures that no tuition fees are paid upfront, and provides students with comparatively generous assistance for living expenses. Still, the English experience provides an instructive case for other countries considering implementing or abolishing tuition fees.

Type: Article
Title: The end of free college in England: Implications for enrolments, equity, and quality
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2018.11.007
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2018.11.007
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Higher education, Financial aid, Tuition fees, Inequality
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Learning and Leadership
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Learning and Leadership > Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10064582
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