December 9th, 2010


Tuition fees

Watching the news about the reaction to the changes to tuition fees, I had to go back and check my own recollection of events.

I can remember student loans coming in while I was at university, and feeling deeply uneasy about them.  There were protests, but oddly, to my mind, there seemed to be little effect on the number of people starting university.

In 2003 topup fees came in despite the promise of Labour at the election, that they would not.    Again, this seemed pretty shocking to me, but the claim was that it would allow more people access to a degree, and there seemed to be a fairly widespread feeling that this was worth the candle, despite the costs. 

I was very surprised.  I looked at the costs and thought 'no way would I have gone to university to come out with that millstone round my neck!' . Repayment rates seemed alarmingly high and the prospect of lifelong debt on a fairly modest wage very likely. The whole system seemed structured to penalise university education severely. 

Now the new Government have done this new thing, and suddenly there is OUTRAGE! everywhere and the whole thing is a hot potato.  What I can't quite figure out is why the potato is suddenly SO hot.   So far as I can see, the financial situation of the more modest earners will be considerably improved, even though the total debt is greater, the weighting is much more towards the richer end of the spectrum, so that modest earners will be considerably better off.  In fact, the new package looks more liveable with than the old one. 

Is it just because the Lib Dems said they wouldnt' do this?   It feels rather as though the students are channeling a wider anger that is really aimed at cuts elsewhere in the system, but they are pushed to the front, because they are young, and gullible, and they don't know yet that politicians never do what they say they will...   Poor old students.