The universities minister David Willetts has said that students should consider university fees “more as an obligation to pay higher income tax” than a debt, according to a report in the Guardian.
Willetts said he did not want to pre-empt the recommendations of former BP chief Lord Browne’s independent review into whether fees should rise, but called for a “radical change” of the funding of university degree courses and claimed that the current system is a burden on the taxpayer, says the report.
Current fees are £3,225 a year, and graduates only start to pay the money back when they earn a salary of £15,000 or more.
Willetts told the Guardian that while he did not want to pre-judge the outcome of the review, the current system was “unsustainable”.
“My view is that it is not a matter of simply changing the fees,” he said. “The system doesn’t contain strong incentives for universities to focus on teaching and the student experience, as opposed to research.”
Willetts is due to give his first major speech in Oxford later today.