By all means let’s have a public debate over university funding and fees but let’s first clear the ground of a tuft of oft-repeated nonsense. The notion that poor people are denied a university education because money goes to pay the fees of those who can afford it is silly.
Firstly, access for the poor is much more complex and deserves separate and serious thought and action.
Secondly, while there are people who can easily afford to pay fees, they are too few to make much difference and thoughts of sliding scales for the not so wealthy emphasise the point.
Thirdly, “afford” is not a simple, binary concept. There are those who might find the money but who can ill-afford to pay. Sure, “free fees” did not alter the class composition of students but it did lift a burden from many families who would otherwise strain to find the money. It is both cruel and dishonest to label these people as middle class and imply that they are whiners who are pretending that they cannot afford fees.
There is no painless “the-rich-will-pay” way to reintroduce fees. If significant money is to be raised through fees, most people will have to pay. Face this and debate the reintroduction of fees.