TV physicist Professor Brian Cox has spoken out against university tuition fees, calling them “a bad policy” and suggesting they are at odds with David Cameron’s “big society”.
Cox, whose new series Wonders of the Universe starts on Sunday, stars on the cover of the latest issue of Radio Times, and in an interview inside he attacks a policy he sees as “penalising poor people”.
“Fees may well discourage people if they haven’t got a load of family money behind them,” says Cox. “You need to cast the net as wide as possible. It’s obvious. Not all Einsteins are rich.”
So how should higher education be funded? “I think that universities are such an important part of society that general taxation should fund them because it is better for everybody. The ‘big society’ is an educated society, where people can participate and understand the cultural achievements.”
In the interview, Cox also talks about his former life as a member of 80s rock band Dare – a far cry from the penny pinching of student life – and the sorts of groupies he’s now attracting.
“Bizarrely, it’s girls, in kind of a pop-star way… [But] I don’t want a 50-year-old male audience. I say science should be part of popular culture. It’s far too important not to be.”