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I happened to read the following on the same day that the UK government voted to treble the fees for English university students.  It may sound familiar.

“Within the universities, every examination taken, every grade passed and degree earned, had a price attached to it. The surviving administrative records from Oxford and Paris attest to the range of fees charged and the amount of conscious effort required of the master-scholars in the assessment and collection of these fees – for the teaching masters at the university were in almost all cases its administrators as well. The minute monetary regulation and gradation of university life was further complicated by the habit of varying each fee levied in proportion to the ability of each student to pay. Again, it was ordinarily the teaching masters who were charged with assessing, collecting, accounting for, and recording these fees. The evidence in surviving university records for continued bureaucratic involvement has led one modern scholar to conclude that university masters of the fourteenth century spent as much of their time performing administrative duties as they did writing and lecturing.”

Welcome to the brave new world of….er….14th century higher education.

The quote is from Joel Kaye’s excellent and highly recommended book:

Kaye, J, 1998, Economy and Nature in the Fourteenth Century: Money, market exchange and the emergence of scientific thought. Cambridge University Press: p.7

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