Vince Cable, the business secretary, has warned universities against charging the maximum tuition fees, claiming that in case these universities do not provide high quality education, they are likely to face a cut in places. In his speech to vice-chancellors, he said that universities have to think more of their "narrower mission" as specialist teaching institutions instead of simply increasing tuition fees to claw back cuts.
The University of Leicester
was the last to declare of increasing the fees up to £9,000 for 2012. Its representatives said that they had "no option but to charge higher fees" in result of cuts that equal to £31.5m. Vince Cable said that universities should think of offering their services cheaper as sixth-form colleges do where students can get a year's teaching for £4,800. He said: "To then receive less intensive teaching [at university] … will leave them wondering why university is so expensive."
Cable believes that universities could face tougher competition from new higher education providers as they do not set such high prices and offer more vocational qualifications that could provide a job to a student after graduation. The minister said: "They will need to think about whether putative links between public reputation and price will work in their favour or not – because, fundamentally, those setting the highest prices should logically be making the very strongest offer to their students, especially on teaching and employment."
Vince Cable said he expected universities to implement creative thinking so that the courses could be redesigned and manage staff changed. However, he added to his essay
: "I may be missing something, but I haven't seen much evidence of this." Despite the fees to be introduced, the government will control the total number of students. Nowadays it is looking at the ways of letting cost-effective universities expand and ministers are going to support the raise of student numbers at those institutions that offer cheaper courses.