Wrong about fees
Writing about web page http://education.guardian.co.uk/students/tuitionfees/story/0,,1840824,00.html
Neal Lawson has it wrong in quite a few ways here.
There remains a massive job to do to tackle the social inequitities Lawson describes but the new fees regime – provided this kind of misinformation can be challenged – with its requirements for generous bursary packages, actually offers the best prospect for changing this.
Several specific points:
- variable fee repayment arrangements are effectively a graduate tax – but they are a capped graduate tax – you don't keep paying after you have repaid all that you owe.
- the 20k debt is not a credit card style debt
- Without the deal on fees many universities would be heading towards insolvency – a graduate tax would not deliver the money desperately needed now in HE.
Most of the rest of this is just pure speculation and really just a bit previous, eg:
Variable fees haven't yet worked as well as the government hoped.
The government has put a financial support package together – but it's clearly not working.
It's August. Fees start this September. Let's look at it in a year, three years or five years and then decide if it's working.
But hang on, I thought you said that the current arrangements are a graduate tax? So why aren't universities heading towards insolvency now? (or are they?)
Of course, you're wrong to say that fees are equivalent to a graduate tax. Psychologically, top up fees are completely different. Being told that you'll amass at least £20,000 worth debt over three years is going to lead to a completely different risk assessment than being told you'll pay 1p in the pound more on income tax.
Further, it is hardly controversial to suggest that variable fees haven't yet worked as the govt hoped. The name rather gives it away: the govt hoped they'd be variable, but they all seem to have ended up being the same.
12 Aug 2006, 09:57
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