As the state continues with its aim of dumbing down university education so as to fit it for the product of less successful state schools, there will come a point at which the best universities - if they wish to maintain their status as leading institutions - will look to escape from the state's clutches. They should not be frightened that this will prevent them attracting the very brainiest young people rather than merely the very wealthiest young people.
By way of showing this:
Oxford University has raised nearly £1.3bn in an eight-year fundraising campaign, the fastest campaign of its size for any European university.
The university has this week announced that it has surpassed the original £1.25bn target it set in May 2004, which it made official in May 2008 at the formal launch of the campaign. The university had raised £575m by the time of the official launch and had reached £1bn by October 2010. The final £299.5m has been raised in less than a year and a half.
Creating the endowments needed to fund scholarships, bursaries and other support for clever young people from less well-off backgrounds is very achievable for the top universities. Think how many students £1 billion invested well could fund?