There is an ominous silence in the fees debate. It arises whenever the discussion turns to the question of university subsidies. So caught up are we all in the passion and trauma of the protests around university fees that little, if any, attention has been given to the issue that actually lies right at the heart of the entire university system — the level of subsidies given by the state to universities to run their operations. In fact, it has almost become a taboo subject — how can we even discuss giving money to universities themselves when students need it so badly? However, the two are intricately linked. In our "shared funding" model what is meant to happen is that fees are meant to constitute but a portion of the income of universities. By far the greater proportion should consist of the state subsidy. But subsidies have, in fact, gone down in real terms; and fees, concomitantly, have gone up. Thus, in the past 15 years, subsidies have fallen as a proportion of the total costs...

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