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, enrollments, 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 enrollments, and a narrowing of the participation gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students. In contrast to other systems with high tuition fees, the English system is distinct in that its income-contingent loan system keeps university free at the point of entry, and provides students with comparatively generous assistance for living expenses. We conclude that tuition fees, at least in the English case supported their goals of increasing quality, quantity, and equity in higher education.Tuition in and of itself does not keep poor kids from going to college, so long as there is financial aid. In fact one thing universities in England have done is to offer poor students grants for living expenses, funded by tuition on wealthier students. This may explain why even though Scotland has abolished tuition for its universities, English universities have more poor students and a generally more diverse student body.
The main beneficiaries of abolishing universities tuition would be upper middle class college students and their families. This is why I think we should keep university tuition high but make community college free; that way we would be subsidizing people who are much more likely to need the help.
In England leftists have generally left off complaining about tuition, since lowering it would mainly benefit people who don't need help, and suggested that the money be spent instead on secondary schools.