My comment on a recent BBC News article "Universities push for higher fees":
I'm a university student from a low-income background, and having started my course just after the last raise in fees took effect, I knew from the beginning that I'd be finishing with £32k of debt (including maintenance loan). While expensive, it's a risk I was willing to take, since it's the best way to equip myself for the field I enjoy. If this number were to be more in the region of £85k, I think a lot of people would shy away from taking on such a staggering debt.
The government needs to realise that if they allow such increases, and also increase student loans to follow suit, then they will be footing the bill for allowing the fees to be raised (and therefore passing it on to the taxpayers). The vital safety net for most students is that student loans are written off 25 years after finishing/leaving the course, and since the university already has the money, the gap has to be filled from somewhere. This alone explains the observations leading to "Two thirds believed that fees had not deterred applications from students from poorer families". If the government wants to subsidise the universities, then they should propose an increase in per-student subsidies as an alternative, presenting the situation as it really is.
Any attempt to raise or un-cap fees that isn't backed completely by student loans will be disasterous. This would change the university admissions process to be less "those who are most able" and more "those who are most able to pay". For a government that campaigned on equal availability of higher education, this would be a step backwards. In a country with a shrinking manufacturing base, intelligent well-educated individuals are a vital resource for staying competitive in a global market.
As it stands, I've not heard of universities being severely underfunded, and where they claim to be it can usually be attributed to mismanagement of funds. If they could survive when we were paying £1150, why can't they survive when we're paying £3150? It seems to me this may be a case of "they did it once, maybe they'll do it again" on the part of universities, hopeful that the government will grant them more revenue without having to show anything for it.