Running our universities for profit was always a bad idea | Letter

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The result has been an increase in fixed costs to pay for vast building programmes and administrative overheads, writes Norman Gowar

Zoe Williams’ article (A generation of students is being ripped off – and our blood should be boiling, 20 May) shows that what is happening in our universities was entirely predictable following the government’s misguided attempt to marketise them.

When the teaching grant plus fee of £6,000 was replaced by a student fee of £9,000, universities reacted like lemmings by increasing student numbers to make a profit. The result has been a rise in fixed costs to pay for vast building programmes, and in administrative overheads to deal with more students and increased regulatory demands. The ratio of academic staff to students has barely shifted, classes are crowded and young academics are on insecure short-term contracts.

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