“Any change in tuition fees needs to support wider access for students that need flexibility in study options,” UNISON head of higher education Donna Rowe-Merriman said today.
She was speaking after prime minister Theresa May admitted that students in England face “one of the most expensive systems of university tuition in the world”, and announced an “independent review of fees and student finance” to take place over the next year.
Tuition fees in England currently stand at £9,250 a year, which leaves student nurses, for instance, qualifying with a debt of more than £50,000.
“UNISON remains committed to a free education system funded by general taxation and is keen to contribute to any examination of fairer ways of resourcing post-16 education,” said Ms Rowe-Merriman.
She also said students and staff needed to be involved in the review, to make sure that “a radical overhaul of a broken system takes place.”
“Students take on the burden of debt whilst business does little to contribute to ensuring it gets a highly skilled workforce,” she added. “This needs to change as a matter of urgency.”
She pointed out that a well educated workforce benefits the economy and society as a whole, not just individual graduates.
Public sector workers including nurses, teachers, doctors, social workers and many more, are all educated at universities around the UK.