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Should UK students be charged university fees?
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Free higher education improves social mobility

Charging for education excludes those who cannot pay for it.


A main argument for keeping higher education free is that it enables everyone to participate. In 1962, a new policy was implemented in the UK whereby higher education would be paid for by the state, and no longer be reserved for the upper classes (and the lucky few who earned a scholarship) [1]. The decision was seen to be a continuation of free secondary education, and aimed to make 18+ education more widely available.

The Argument

The essence of this argument is simple; if you do not have to pay for higher education, low income is no longer a barrier to accessing it. By reducing the costs you make education accessible to everyone, not just the wealthiest in society. In this way, the natural benefits of the biggest earners in society are mitigated, because their ability to pay for education is no longer relevant. Furthermore, free higher education also reduces the disparity between students whilst at university. Currently, many students struggle to balance part-time work alongside their studies. The result is that their wealthier peers have more free time or may attain higher grades as they have longer to work on assignments. If university was free, then this inequality would no longer exist.

Counter arguments

Few can deny that this argument is in any way flawed, however, many have noted that it is too idealistic and is more of a theoretical argument than a practical one.



P1. Charging for education makes higher education inaccessible or less enjoyable for those from poorer backgrounds. P2. In this way, charging for education discriminates against those from economically deprived backgrounds. P3. Therefore, charging for higher education promotes inequality.

Rejecting the premises

The premise is not rejected, but regarded as an abstract ideal rather than a sensible, functioning policy.


This page was last edited on Friday, 17 Apr 2020 at 10:00 UTC

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