TIGA, the trade association representing the UK games industry, today warned that any increase in tuition fees for undergraduates after the next general election should not be used as an excuse by government to reduce public sector expenditure on higher education.
The video games industry and the wider UK economy need a greater supply of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates. Any increase in student tuition fees after 2010 must serve to achieve this strategic objective. TIGA made the comments in response to Lord Mandelson's speech on student tuition fees at Birbeck University in Central London.
Richard Wilson, CEO of TIGA, said:
The UK has some excellent universities. According to the Shanghai University league table of universities, the UK has four universities in the top 30, second only to the USA. We also have some excellent university departments specialising in video games, including Abertay in Scotland. However, as a country we are investing less in higher education in comparison to some of our key competitors. For example, the USA, China, Sweden and Poland all spend a greater proportion of Gross Domestic Product on higher education than the UK.
If student tuition fees increase after the general election the Government must not use this as an excuse to reduce public investment in higher education. Any increase in funding for higher education engendered through tuition fees should be additional to current levels of public sector investment.
Universities will have to avoid deterring potential students from studying STEM courses if tuition fees rise further. Some of these courses are relatively expensive for universities to provide and clearly need to be properly resourced. Universities could consider cross subsidisation between different degree courses to ensure that potential STEM students are not discouraged from entering higher education. Money raised through higher tuition fees should also be used to provide for bursaries and lower fees generally for capable students from disadvantaged backgrounds to study STEM subjects.
The video games industry and the wider UK economy need a greater supply of STEM graduates. Any increase in student tuition fees after 2010 must serve to achieve this strategic objective.