There was no golden age of free university education. There was a period when the state covered tuition costs and disbursed maintenance grants for undergraduates regardless of their financial circumstances, but it was a brief and ungilded: 1977 to 1985.
Either side of that window, the picture is complicated by fees, means-testing and loans. Even in the longer period stretching back to the early 1960s, when most students had the bulk of their university costs met by general taxation, someone was still paying. A small minority, disproportionately affluent, enjoyed the benefits of a system subsidised by everyone else.Continue reading...