British universities, groaning under the burden of a huge increase in student numbers, are warning that the tradition of a free education is at risk. The universities have threatened to impose an admission fee on students to plug a gap in revenue if the government does not act to improve their finances and scrap some public spending cutbacks.
The government responded to the universities’ threat by setting up the most fundamental review of higher education for a generation, under a non-party troubleshooter (调停人)，Sir Ron Dearing.
One in three school-leavers enters higher education, five times the number when the last review took place thirty years ago.
Everyone agrees a system that is feeling the strain after rapid expansion needs a lot more money-but there is little hope of getting it from the taxpayer and not much scope for attracting more finance from business.
Most colleges believe students should contribute to tuition costs, something that is common elsewhere in the world but would mark a revolutionary change in Britain. Universities want the government to introduce a loan scheme for tuition fees and have suspended their own threatened action for now. They await Dearing’s advice, hoping it will not be too late-some are already reported to be in financial difficulty.
As the century nears its end, the whole concept of what a university should be is under the microscope. Experts ponder how much they can use computers instead of classrooms, talk of the need for lifelong learning and refer to students as “consumers.”
The Confederation (联盟) of British Industry, the key employers’ organization, wants even more expansion in higher education to help fight competition on world markets from booming Asian economies. But the government has doubts about more expansion. The Times newspaper egress, complaining that quality has suffered as student numbers soared, with close tutorial supervision giving way to “mass production methods more typical of European universities.”
21. The chief concern of British universities is ________.
A) how to tackle their present financial difficulty
B) how to expand the enrollment to meet the needs of enterprises
C) how to improve their educational technology
D) how to put an end to the current tendency of quality deterioration
22. We can learn from the passage that in Britain ________.
A) the government pays dearly for its financial policy
B) universities are mainly funded by businesses
C) higher education is provided free of charge
D) students are ready to accept loan schemes for tuition
23. What was the percentage of high school graduates admitted to universities in Britain thirty years ago?
A) 20% or so.
B) About 15%.
C) Above 30%.
D) Below 10%.
24. It can be inferred from the passage that ________.
A) the British government will be forced to increase its spending on higher education
B) British employers demand an expansion in enrollment at the expense of quality
C) the best way out for British universities is to follow their European counterparts
D) British students will probably have to pay for their higher education in the near future
25. Which of the following is the viewpoint of the Times newspaper?
A) Expansion in enrollment is bound to affect the quality of British higher education.
B) British universities should expand their enrollment to meet the needs of industry.
C) European universities can better meet the needs of the modern world.
D) British universities should help fight competition on world markets.