Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Student Funding 'Lottery'

This BBC article quotes NUS President Wes Streeting as saying "All students have to pay £3,145 a year in top-up fees, but they face a postcode lottery when it comes to financial support... Richer universities in the Russell Group can offer poorer students an average annual bursary of £1,791, but those from the Million+ group can only offer £680.

I've pointed out before (e.g. here) that postcodes aren't allocated by lottery. The problem with distributing certain goods by postcode would be that the rich have more choice over where they live and can thus buy access to things like good schools or medical treatment via the back door.

This case is even worse as it's not as if the difference in funds is attributable to different LEAs or where one chooses to study (Oxford and Oxford Brookes, for example, may involve the same postcode). The problem is that traditional 'good' universities have more funds than modern ex-Polys. One would need a substantive debate to settle whether this was a fair meritocracy or whether competition for the best academic tuition should be of any relevance to funding, but it has nothing to do with postcodes.

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