Tuesday, 12 October 2010

University Fees

The current backing of increasing university tuition fees, potentially by almost £10,000 a year, just highlights why I didn't want the fucking Tories in power. If it goes through and the Lib Dems don't stand up and block it, then I'll basically lose all the slivers of remaining faith that I have in Nick Clegg and co actually having a fucking spine between them.

Look at the fucking picture. That is Nick Clegg, leader of the Lib Dems and current Deputy Prime Minister, holding a paper pledging that he will vote against a rise in university tuition fees. Half the fucking reason (if not the whole reason) that Lib Dem got so many votes from students was because of their stance to keep tuition fees where they are. Yet we now have Vince Cable apparently stating his support of the plans to raise them to as much as £12,000 a year, which is a fucking shambles.

I doubt the change in fees will actually come in quickly enough to affect my tuition fees, but I still think this is a terrible idea. Higher education is something that should be a right to everyone, not just students who can afford it. It's bad enough in countries like the USA where paying for tuition is an absolutely huge issue for students, and though capping it at £12k isn't anywhere near as high as the fees in the US, it's still a huge fucking leap in the wrong direction.

The fact is that giving such a large increase in the fees cap will create a financially tiered system of universities, which is what is currently the case in the USA and is what I think should definitely never, ever be the case. Students should be able to apply to universities based on academic merit, and finances shouldn't even remotely come into the selection process. Otherwise we'll end up with a system like the Ivy League in America, where potential students are narrowed down as much for their trust funds as they are academic abilities.

It's bad enough that the secondary education is so clearly tiered with private schools clearly producing students with better exam results than state schools, without extending that trend to university. Currently a degree from Oxbridge costs the same as a degree from any other university in terms of tuition, and that's how it should be. If you can afford to go to uni, you can afford to go to any of them. It shouldn't ever be that students need to go to a lesser university because they "can't afford Oxbridge", and all the Tories are doing if they go through with this proposed rise is taking things in that direction.

What's really fucking stupid is that in the short-term at least this isn't going to make a fucking difference whatsoever to the state of the government finances. This rise from £3k to £12k is just going to mean that students need to take out loans of the same price difference. Instead of that £9k coming from the government as a grant, it's going to come from the government as a loan, as the Student Loans Company is still a public body, so it's still ultimately money lent by the government. They're still going to be paying the exact same fucking amount for each student. Sure, now they money has to be paid back, but most students are leaving with loan debts of around £18,000 (including maintenance loans, but not interest), which means the government is only actually recouping money back once students are starting to pay off more than the £18,000 and eating into the rest of the ~£45,0000 or whatever it's going to be. Given that students will take three years in education before they're even earning money, it's going to be a good seven or eight years at least before the government starts seeing any sort of extra money from this system over the current one.

Now it's said in the report that only those people who earn reasonable salaries after university will have to pay the full amount back, but I don't really see how that saves it because you can't really force people into essentially gambling into making money that they don't really have. Personally I think it would be better if fees were scrapped altogether, though I can see the argument of why the taxpayer shouldn't have to shoulder everything. I do think though that £50,000 is way beyond the acceptable amount of debt to be leaving university with, and I don't see how it's going to help the government or the economy if graduates are leaving education with such a ridiculous amount of debt.

As less prestigious universities cut fees to try and make them more attractive to potential students, and the more prestigious universities hike them up because they've already got more than enough demand for places, then it's only going to serve to widen the gap between the standards of universities, and above all it's just going to reinforce what's already enough of an elitist system of rich people getting prestigious educations that poor people can't afford and then landing up all the highly-paid jobs. It doesn't matter how smart you are, if you can't afford to get into a good school and then a good university then you're seriously handicapped when it comes to getting a decent job when you graduate. Maybe if any of these fucking Tories (for the record, Lord Browne went to King's School, Ely, which is an independent boarding school with fees of £16-23k a year) had actually grown up without having their parents spoon-feeding them all the money they could want, then they'd realise that too.

1 comment:

  1. Dude it's so uncool it's ridiculous. I'm so glad I'm in the system right now - might have to jump ship on the UK otherwise lol