Today’s Terrible Idea – University Price Setting By Regulatory Diversity Targets


From the Annals of Truly Terrible Ideas comes this suggestion from the universities regulator. Apparently the idea is that they will determine market prices through regulation. That regulation being based upon how well, or how well not, diversity targets are met. This is to substitute a planned economy for the market one, which is to reverse the very point of having freed the universities to charge fees in the first place. It’s also a violation of that grand experiment we call the 20th century. Planned systems don’t work, market ones do:

Universities that fail to improve diversity will have their tuition fees slashed by a third, the university regulator has warned amid a row over Oxbridge’s admission policies.

Sir Michael Barber, the chairman of the Office for Students, said he is “interested in results, not just plans” in a clear warning to Oxford and Cambridge and other institutions that they must back up their words with action.

In an article for The Telegraph, Sir Michael said if a university does not “keep its promises” to improve diversity he would reduce the tuition fees cap from £9,000 to £6,000, and also threatened to fine universities as he insisted: “We will act.”

Prices are to be set by how well the universities meet the desires of the regulator. How long is the list of the regulator’s desires? And how much longer will it get when those with a grievance decide to lobby the regulator?

Quite, this the beginning of the killing off of even the most basic of markets and price competition and the imposition again of the planned system, isn’t it?