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Student Tuition Fees Policy

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This paper will seek to establish the major underlying assumptions conceded by the education policy makers in the UK and explore the pressing and controversial issue of student’s tuition fees payment in the UK higher education structures. Education in the UK, just like in the rest of the world is regarded as an important undertaking by both an individual and the society. This is because of the benefits of schooling or otherwise acquiring education that accrue to the education seeker. Henkel and Little (1999) state that education is an important instrument in social policy and a lot of social welfare initiatives go towards education. In the welfare state by the government and the local authorities, funds allocated to education average 40% of the total amount available for allocation. Education is therefore important, both the basic and higher education. The perception towards acquiring education has also rapidly changed. Not so long ago, one would just strive to complete the basic education stage but right now, with the world becoming increasingly competitive, getting higher education is evidence of aspiration, success and a tool for upward social mobility (Marcucci and Johnstone, 2007). This view has also changed the importance the government attaches to higher education and consequently the funding. Successive governments have progressively support advances in education especially higher education. This had been evidenced by the scrapping of the tuition fee for those students pursuing higher education in universities and colleges (Mayhew, Deer and Dua, 2004). However, with the changing economical atmosphere and increase in competition among institutions providing higher education, the government reverted back to the tuition-paying system in 1998. The issue of tuition fees has been hotly contested since then especially considering that the burden shifted to the students has progressively been increasing. Education Policy: Higher Education Tuition Fees The UK policy on education concerning payment of tuition fees for higher education students has undergone rapid changes in less than two decades. Before 1998, students in universities and colleges were not required to pay for tuition related expenses by the higher education institutions. The government used to fully finance these institutions (Barr, 2003). However, the population has increased and so is the number of students pursuing higher education and the institutions offering these services, this has strained the government’s resources allocation in the welfare state. Consequently, this allocation by the government has proved insufficient for these institutions and they began lobbying the government for more. The government opted to introduce student’s education fee to facilitate smooth running and operating of these institutions because the level of education was decreasing. The universities and colleges could not compete with other universities form the globe because of their financial strain. The government therefore gave in to those demands (Barr, 2003). Tuition fees were introduced in the UK in 1998 by the Labour Party that was in government then. The undergraduate and postgraduate students were supposed to pay up to ?1,000 towards tuition. This was estimated to be roughly a quarter of the average tuition fees a student is likely to pay for a course (Mayhew, Deer and