In this post I offered some arguments - Why University Education should be Free.
However, in this post, I want to argue why top up fees are a good idea and should be extended in the UK
1. Means Testing enables poor people to still go to university.
Those from low income families should still be able to go to University. i.e. Not everyone should pay all fees. Middle classes benefit most from university education. Therefore, why should the average worker subsidise a university student to get a higher salary.
2. The positive externalities of university education are not that great.
Many degrees give mainly a private benefit of a higher salary to the worker. Spending 3 years on studying English literature gives little social benefit. Therefore, if the main benefit of a degree is a higher salary, it seems fair the student should somehow pay for the personal benefit he recieves.
3. A degree is mainly a signal for higher productivity.
A degree in many subjects doesn't actually increase productivity that much. Employers like to employ graduates, not because the Ancient History degree is of any use in an Investment Banks, but, because a person with a degree is likely to have a greater intelligence / dilligence.
4. It reduces time wasters.
At the moment, there is a high drop out rate from university; but, if you have to pay, people will only study if they really want to. However, it could be said some students will have to drop out because they can't afford the top up fees.
5. Government subsidies of higher education may encourage inefficiency.
If universities have to raise revenue privately they have to respond to market signals. e.g. Getting sponsorship from the corporate sector may encourage universities to supply course of relevance to the modern world
6. Raises revenue
Top up fees enable more investment in UK universities. It will also help attract and keep the best teachers and researchers. At the moment, the UK loses many top researchers to the US, where salaries are mostly double the UK.