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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Dynamics of Variable Fees: Exploring Institutional and Public Policy Responses


Variable fees at the graduate and undergraduate levels are a topic of discussion in the US and in the EU as part of a larger movement towards increasing the role of fees in the funding of public universities. This essay describes this relatively new shift and its causes, outlines various funding models related to fee levels, and discusses the possible policy implications of variable fee structures. Here we argue that much of the movement toward increased fees in places such as the US and the UK is being pursued incrementally, without an adequate discussion of the long-term implications either for students or for how universities fund academic programs.

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