Top-up fees

The second secretary in the Education Section of the Chinese Embassy, Mr Wang,  is having a talk on "top-up tuition fees" with the general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, Miss Smith. You are the interpreter.

W: 英国教育部计划于2006年增收大学生学费的问题引起了激烈争论,听说您刚刚做了一项社会调查,能给我们介绍一下这次调查的结果吗?

S: Alright. The survey covered 550 parents with children under 16 on up to 25,000 pounds a year. 71 per cent said that it would be much less likely that their child would go to universities if charges of up to 3,000 were to be introduced. And 72 per cent said that it would be more likely their child would go on the cheaper course if varying rates were charged. 

W: 25,000 镑是什么概念呢?您为什么把调查范围定在年收入为25,000镑以下的家庭?

S: 25,000 is less than average earnings, but far from on the breadline, which means children from these families are unlikely to benefit from full exemptions. Generally, parents, increasingly expected to foot the bill, are worried.

W: 据说增收学费的一部分会用来做助学金,政府认为这是鼓励有经济困难的学生上大学的一个有效办法,学生们对这个问题的态度怎么样?

S: They think the top-up fees are a disaster for higher education because they will create a two-tier system which will lead to some universities heading to the wall. And they will do nothing for the government's target to get more than half of young people into higher education by 2010. 

W: 有消息说“拉塞尔集团”的成员十分赞成和支持学费改革方案,能给我们介绍一下这方面的情况吗?

S: The reason why universities might want the top-up fees is that they claim they are seriously under-funded, particularly those elite universities in the Russell Group. There are additional contributions from the government, but these are simply not sufficient for universities to maintain the standard. One example you must have heard about is that when highly trained academic staff begin their career, they are paid less than beginner bus-drivers and much less that of school-teachers.

W: 那么除了增加学费之外,政府有没有考虑过其它的解决办法呢?

S: Another option could be a graduate tax. The problem is that the returns on this would take long to kick in and the universities are unlikely want to wait that long.