"... the Gove option will mean that a lot of bright working or lower-middle class kids will look at a potential £60,000 debt and they won't bother - unless they're at Oxbridge or doing a course with a pretty much guaranteed career at the end of it. Outside this small subset of courses, university will be restricted to those whose parents can subsidise them - i.e. the very rich.
That's not all bad - I can see cultural studies departments being disbanded across England and Wales. Economic forces will cut away swathes of courses and institutions, correcting the insane growth of the last 25 years.
But at that kind of cost the idea of education as a good in itself will wither away. Who's going to do archaeology without a private income ?"
And lo, it comes to pass (pay link):
"Nearly one in five degree courses has been scrapped since the trebling of maximum tuition fees to £9,000 as universities concentrate on popular subjects and drop courses that have too few applicants or cost too much to run. Officials figures show a cull of more than 2,600 in the number of courses available to applicants planning to start their degrees in 2013. More than 5,200 courses had already been removed for students beginning this year, the first to face the higher fees.
Some of the courses have been dumped by universities even after prospectuses went online earlier this year, and in some cases after applications had begun. The scrapped courses range from archeology at Birmingham to languages at Salford and London Metropolitan. The number of courses listed by UCAS has fallen from 43,360 to 35,501 in two years"
In all respects (you can read this one) ...
"Students beginning university next year will be only the second cohort to pay at the higher rate of tuition fees, which were increased to a maximum of £9,000 per annum last year – almost treble the previous limit. The fees increase led to a sharp drop in applications last year, but hopes that this was a temporary dip will have been hit by today's figures, which show an even greater proportional fall at this stage compared with last year among British school leavers.
In total 145,000 applications were received for all courses at UK universities by November 19 this year. This compares with more than 180,000 at the same stage in 2010, the year before the introduction of the new fees regime."
I think the new fees have also concentrated some people's minds when it comes to the value of a degree, which was sold to prospective students as "Graduates earn £15K more then non-grads ! You know it makes sense !". Alas, those figures, while true, failed to point out that those figures were based on the relative scarcity back of graduates back in the day, compared to a world where maybe 40% of their age cohort would be grads. It also failed to point out that in a few-graduates world, those grads were likely to be at the top of the intelligence range - and maybe that's why they were high earners. In a many-grads world, average grad intelligence will be lower.
But even for bright people the jobs market is tough. I know people with 2-1s from Russell Group uni's who are working in call centres at £6 an hour.
UPDATE - obviously, the solution to all these woes is to bring in more graduates from overseas.