I know the Government is getting desperately confused in its higher education policy, but the answer is not to introduce a two-tier fees system for home students. Instead, the Government needs to examine the problems it has created for itself in its higher education policy. The most important mistake was in getting the pricing wrong, assuming that universities would not charge £9000 while it was cutting their teaching budgets. This was a false economy, as the Government has to pick up the tab for the extra loans, which although attracting some interest are now only repayable when earners exceed £21k in income. It looks like there was no proper modelling done which included the likely impact of abolishing all state funding.
Perhaps now is the time to look again at the inter-relationship between several aspects of the new system: the size of the maximum fee and the availability of loans, the loan repayment terms, the extent to which government and universities underwrite those loans and the level of HEFCE grant for non-science subjects. A better balance could certainly be more manageable - and fairer- than allowing rich kids to indulge in a spot of arbitrary queue jumping. Vince Cable - if he can refocus on his department for a moment - and David Willetts need to go back to the drawing board.