Opening doors to medicine

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.328.7455.1508 (Published 24 June 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:1508
  1. Sean Hilton (shilton@sghms.ac.uk), professor of primary care,
  2. Kenton Lewis, widening participation officer
  1. St. George's Hospital Medical School, London SW17 0RE
  2. St. George's Hospital Medical School, London SW17 0RE

    Widening participation must sit alongside top up fees

    Today's universities must compete and thrive in an evolving and fast moving international market. The current funding gap in higher education in the United Kingdom must be bridged if institutions are to do so, and the government sees increased fees for students as part of the solution. Despite much controversy the proposed implementation of a system of top up fees for students in England and Wales is now established at the top of the higher education agenda.1

    In considering the impact on universities of top up fees the government's own commitment to increasing and widening participation is of major importance—namely, that 50% of those aged 18-30 are to have higher education experience by 2010. The relation between top up fees and widening participation is problematic. The people who are working to tackle commitments to widening participation are faced with apparently mutually exclusive policy positions—to raise participation by “debt averse” people in a system perceived to increase personal financial burden. …

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