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Higher education funding reforms in England : the distributional effects and the shifting balance of costs

By Lorraine Dearden, Emla Fitzsimons, Alissa Goodman and Greg Kaplan


This paper undertakes a quantitative analysis of substantial reforms to the system of higher education (HE) finance first announced in 2004 and then revised again in July 2007. The reforms introduced deferred fees for HE, payable by graduates through the tax system in the form of income-contingent repayments on loans subsidised by the government. Lifetime earnings that have been simulated by the authors using innovative methods, are used to analyse the likely distributional consequences of the reforms for graduates. It is shown that graduates with low lifetime earnings will pay less for their HE than graduates higher up the lifetime earnings distribution compared to the system operating before the reforms. Taxpayers will bear substantial costs due to the interest rate and debt write-off subsidies. The extent to which the reforms are likely to shift the balance of funding for HE between the public and private sector is also analysed, as well as the likely distributional consequences of a number of variations to the system such as removing the interest subsidy from the loans

Year: 2008
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