I thought I would make a quick comment about this Guardian article suggesting that the government is considering the possibility that UK students could get a place at the university of their choosing if they were willing to pay – up front – the full fee. They would be paying the same as international students (i.e., not home/EU) and this is generally significantly higher than the fees currently proposed for local students (£12000 or higher).
This proposal is supposedly alright since these students would only be accepted if they satisfied the entry requirements for the degree programme to which they had applied. This sounds fine, doesn’t it? If they could get in anyway why not let them do so. They will pay more than other UK students and so will help to effectively subsidise other students. There are two reasons why this is disingenuous. Firstly why would anyone directly pay up to double what they need to? Sounds too good to be true. Secondly, most universities (or at least Oxbridge and the Russell Group) are selecting. This means that they have a minimum entry requirement (i.e., what prospective students would at least need in order to cope with the degree programme) but generally select students with grades significantly higher than this minimum.
What the government is presumably suggesting is that these full fee students would satisfy this minimum but could well have grades (and presumably ability) well below the typical for the degree programme onto which they have been accepted. If I really believed that students, who would be selected on merit alone, might be willing to pay much more than other students on the same programme, I’d be all for this. Since I don’t believe this is likely to be the case, I think this is an absolutely shocking suggestion and I hope universities show some backbone and refuse to allow this to happen.