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The price of higher education: how rational is British tuition fee policy?

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>02/2010
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management
Issue number1
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)85-95
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article examines the introduction of variable tuition fees for university students in the UK - an initiative that has become totemic in British higher education policy. The article seeks to identify the origin of this policy, using the work of Michael Oakeshott (1962) as a framework for discussing the rationality of new Labour. The rhetoric of the government during the passage of the 2004 Higher Education Act is analysed to identify the extent to which rationalism is demonstrated in the policy-making process and this is contrasted with Oakeshott's conception of policy as evolution. The article concludes that variable tuition fees resulted from a process of conservative evolution, notwithstanding rhetoric of rationality, and discusses the implications of this for the future direction of British higher education policy.