In other news, there's been a lot of muttering recently about Imperial deciding to introduce top-up (tuition) fees for students. This doesn't affect me directly, since I'm not an Imperial student, and if I go to do a PhD there then I won't be paying tuition fees. However, I've been forming my own opinion on it, since it's got so much attention in ICSF. Someone else said recently that this comes down to a simple equation for the university - the money coming in needs to be >= the money going out. So, if they don't match (which is apparently the case), then you either need to get more money in, or reduce your outgoing expenses. I don't know the details of what Imperial spends its money on, but nobody has suggested that there's any mismanagement going on (e.g. 4000 pound toilet seats), so I don't think reducing expenditure is practical. That means they need to get more money in. Now, personally, I think that the government ought to divert more money into funding for higher education, which is the main reason that I always vote LibDem at elections (aside from Ken for London Mayor). However, it looks like most voters disagree with me (not entirely surprising). That sucks, but there's not much the university can do about it, so asking their students for more money may be the only option. What I do definitely believe is that there should be a sensible loans structure in place, so that people can focus on their studies without spending half their time doing bar-work etc., even if that means they wind up in debt afterwards. I.e. the option should be available, even if some people don't use it.
As a sidebar to this, I get lots of emails that are broadcast to all the students at Kings, often looking for volunteers for some survey or another. The latest one was asking for people who were willing to have a tube stuck up their nose, then swallowed into their stomachs, where it would stay for 24 hours - I think not! Anyway, one of them was a survey about postgraduate funding, where the volunteers would be put into a raffle to win 100 quid, so I went along yesterday to do that. Various questions, e.g. "Who pays for your tuition?" (Me), "How relevant was this in your choice of university?" (Not at all). It then got to one about "Would you have been willing to pay more? If so, how much more?" This obviously has implications with the Imperial situation. I thought about it, and opted for "I'd be willing to pay 100% more", on the grounds that I could afford it (since the bank would loan me as much money as I wanted), and this course is something that I really want to do. In fact, I slightly downgraded that - my fees are about 3000 quid for the year, so double that would be 6000. Apparently, the full cost to the university is 10,000, and that's what some other MSc courses cost, including one that I considered at Imperial, so I would theoretically have been willing to pay that, although I'd obviously prefer not to. This probably makes me something of a class traitor, while lots of ICSF people are out doing protests, but I felt honour-bound to tell the truth.