This topical volume tells the story of the UK debate on financing higher education, illustrating a head-on collision between the economic imperatives of student loans and regulated market forces, and the political imperative of 'free' higher education. In telling the story of the partnership of an economist and a political professional, the book offers lessons about both policy design and the politics of reform: of particular relevance to countries which have not yet addressed the issue, including many OECD countries, the more advanced post-communist reforming countries and, increasingly, to middle-income developing countries.
No longer the exclusive province of a small intellectual elite, higher education is a key element in national economic performance. A modern economy needs a high-quality university system, and needs to make it accessible to everyone who can benefit, but mass higher education is expensive, and competes for public funds with pensions and health care, to say nothing of nursery education and schools. How to pay for higher education has thus become a central issue, and Barr and Crawford’s book expertly covers the debates and issues involved.
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Nicholas Barr is Professor of Public Economics at the LSE and the author of books and articles including The Economics of the Welfare State. He has spent periods of leave at the World Bank, working on the post-communist transition countries, and at the IMF. Since the late 1980s, he has been active in the debate on higher education, advising government in a range of countries including England, Australia, New Zealand and Hungary.
Iain Crawford is a former Parliamentary Candidate and former Head of Public Relations at the London School of Economics. He has been active in the UK debate on higher education since the late 1980s and has advised the Hungarian government on the design of a student loan scheme.
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