I thought it worth updating the last post, with today’s report by the Public Accounts Committee having confirmed that the decision of most universities to charge the maximum tuition fee permissible under the hatchet-job misimplementation of the Browne Report recommendations means the government’s sums are now officially broken. In order to claw back the unexpectedly high cost of subsidising loans, it will be necessary either to further cut central funding (to a point at which universities will definitely decline) or to impose tough limits on student numbers at each institution. This is madness. Browne’s key recommendation was that a true market should be allowed to develop in Higher Education. I have my doubts about the viability of this plan for the reasons set out in my last post. But imposing even stricter limits on student numbers in addition to a cap on fees completely wrecks even its the positive elements. Under the pre-Browne system, proper competition between institutions to attract students failed to develop because everyone charged the same and everyone had a fixed quota of students they could recruit in any one year, set by the government. Sound familiar? No wonder even those institutions which embraced Browne are now expressing no confidence in the government.