An alternative is offered by the Norwegian system where public tuition at all levels is free, including master studies.
Students pay only for books. A competition of sorts comes from private schools, that may have special curricula which are not part of the public.
Prudent Norway benefit from the Soverign Wealth Fund created from the revenues form North Sea oil and Gas. The UK blew this money creating a social state and increasinf public spending; both of which have been dragging the economy down ever since.
Norway also has a social state and high public spending. Norway simply runs its nation a lot better and does not have its wealthy individuals hiding their money in offshore tax havens.