Institute of Education
University College London
20 Bedford Way
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|September 2017||The End of Free College in England: Implications for Quality, Enrolments, and Equity|
with Richard Murphy, Judith Scott-Clayton: w23888
Despite increasing financial pressures on higher education systems throughout the world, many governments remain resolutely opposed to the introduction of tuition fees, and some countries and states where tuition fees have been long established are now reconsidering free higher education. This paper examines the consequences of charging tuition fees on university quality, enrolments, and equity. To do so, we study the English higher education system which has, in just two decades, moved from a free college system to one in which tuition fees are among the highest in the world. Our findings suggest that England’s shift has resulted in increased funding per head, rising enrolments, and a narrowing of the participation gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students. In contrast to other sy...