Many university students in Britain are furious. After learning of the Labour government's proposal to impose tuition fees for the first time in the country's history, some students declared they're ready to fight. "It's wrong to make students foot the bill," they say.
But the government has little choice. The state-supported universities need money - badly. They face a collective deficit of up to $3.2 billion in the next decade. In the 1960s, when only 1 in 20 young people entered the higher-education system, tax revenue was enough to cover costs. Now, with 1 in 3 enrolled, it's not.
Under the proposal, all but the poorest students would pay tuition of up to $1,600 a year, as well as room and board. Loans would be available to everyone, and students would be asked to make payments once they were employed. Those making less than $25,000 a year would be exempt.
By American standards, at least, that's reasonable. Some British students say the government is abdicating a basic responsibility. But part of that responsibility must be to quality education - and that takes money, more than the universities now have.