Tuition Fee Rise Could Close Universities, Anthony Giddens Warns
A leading academic has warned that the trebling of tuition fees could lead to the closure of some universities.
Labour's Lord Giddens said the Government's "big bang" approach to fees was bound to deter poorer students from applying for university places.
He told peers this could potentially lead to "chaotic consequences", including the possible closure of university departments and universities themselves.
The former director of the London School of Economics voiced "deep disquiet" over the outcome of the Browne review of higher education in a Lords debate.
As with the NHS, ministers seemed bent on conducting a "real-life experiment" on universities with little research to back them up, he said.
The "ideological thrust" of the Browne report should have been rejected as it was "quite alien to what universities are about", Lord Giddens said.
He added: "They aren't a sort of supermarket where education can be chosen like a washing powder off the shelf. Fees should have been increased progressively, not in a big bang fashion, trebling overnight with dramatic consequences for the young people affected.
"I would have preserved a larger chunk of state funding because universities are public institutions with a massive impact which goes beyond the simple experience of learning.
"I would have given far more thought to the knock-on consequences of university reform on job creation and growth, as well as the wider culture of the country."
Warning of the "potentially chaotic consequences," he said departments may close with a loss of expertise and added: "What will the Government do if universities are forced to close down?"