Vince: why I’m saying ‘No’ to the graduate tax

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, has tonight written to all Lib Dem members in anticipation of the publication next week of the report of the Browne Review (‘The Independent Review of Higher Education & Student Finance in the UK’ to give it its official title).

Here’s what Vince has to say:

Dear Friend,

As you know, one of the most urgent tasks facing the Coalition Government is to reform the funding of Higher Education. Our objectives are clear: high-quality university teaching and research; fair access for all, regardless of background; and a progressive funding structure.

At the same time, we are delivering a tough deficit reduction programme, necessary to save the economy from a major financial crisis centring on the country’s credit worthiness. If we are to avoid substantial cuts in higher education more money must be found.

Next week, Lord Browne will publish his report, with recommendations for reform. The Government will respond shortly. But I can say now that I want a system that meets all of our key objectives for HE, and that helps with our deficit reduction programme.

I can also say now that it is already clear that an additional tax on graduates – a ‘pure’ graduate tax – is not the way forward. While it is superficially attractive, an additional tax on graduates fails both the tests of fairness and deficit reduction. There are a number of objections to such a tax – which is why the Labour government rejected it – including:

First, since a graduate tax is open-ended, some graduates would unfairly find themselves paying many times the cost of their course. This is not fair.

Second, foreign students could end up paying less than some UK graduates, because taxes cannot be collected from people living in other countries. This is not fair either.

Third, a graduate tax would do nothing to reduce the deficit over the next five years. Indeed, it would add many billions to public spending, meaning that further cuts would be needed in other areas of government spending. We have looked hard at possible ways of bringing forward tax revenue from graduate tax revenues – but they don’t work.

A strong university sector is very important for future national prosperity and for social mobility. We need a system for funding universities that is fair and robust. As a Government, we have therefore looked in detail at all the options for reform. A graduate tax has some attractive features – especially in-built progressivity in repayments – which is why we have looked at it from all angles.

But Labour was right when it rejected a graduate tax as an option, and would be wrong to support it now. Indeed, there is a very useful publication – entitled ‘What’s Wrong with a Graduate Tax’ – published by the last Labour Government. I feel sure that Ed Miliband, when he considers the options carefully, will cease to support a graduate tax.

As I have said on previous occasions, I am entirely committed to a progressive system of graduate contributions, the details of which we will be able to confirm shortly. And I have been open-minded about the possibility of a pure graduate tax. But it is clearly not the right vehicle. We can do better – and we will.”

Here’s my first take on the announcement:

1. Tuition fees are on their way out; but a graduate tax won’t replace it. Vince has been careful never to use the term ‘graduate tax’, though the media has paid little attention to Vince’s words (see Andrew Hinton’s brilliant post here). It is interesting that Vince is ruling out the graduate tax at just the time Labour has elected a new leader who has voiced his strong support for it.

2. Don’t expect an immediate Coalition Government response to the Browne Review. Though Vince Cable and Tory higher education minister David Willetts have found much common ground on the future of universities, there are genuine disagreements over how higher education should be funded. Expect them to welcome the Browne Review’s contribution to the debate, and then continue to hammer away at a compromise which they will hope both parties can sign up to. What seems likely to be put on the table is a ‘graduate contribution’, with graduates paying back according to their means — not into central state coffers, but back to universities themselves. Whether this will be for a defined time period, or indefinitely is as yet undecided. It’s a system which should satisfy the Tories; whether it will be judged progressive enough for Lib Dems to sign up to is less clear.

3. Vince’s priority is reforming the HE system first, before sorting HE funding. Vince is said to half-regret not standing down the Browne Review when he took over as secretary of state, fearing that they are focusing on the wrong issue: how to pay for universities, rather than working out what it is universities are being paid to do. Expect Vince to look at the structures: research funding consolidated within the top universities, with more teaching-only universities, and two-year degree courses as standard rather than the exceptions. Why commit yourself to funding reforms before you’ve worked out what should be funded?

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97 Comments

  • Stephen Donnelly 9th Oct '10 - 7:27pm

    I had not read Andrew Hinton’s post until I viewed this piece, and therefore I believed that Vince had floated the idea of a graduate tax. My misunderstanding, of course, but I am politically active, and I have a son at University, so if I thought that, I expect it is what most people thought. Vince needs to look very carefully at his handling of the press on this.

    The lines of thought now appear to be interesting, but I don’t know where this is leading yet, and am glad I don’t have to defend it yet on the doorstep, or in the student halls.

  • Bearing in mind their absolute commitments as individuals to vote against any increase in tuition fees, there should be only one question that LibDem MPs ask themselves – will students have to pay more? If so, they are morally bound to vote against. Oh yes, and abstaining is not the same thing at all.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 9th Oct '10 - 8:12pm

    “Expect Vince to look at the structures: research funding consolidated within the top universities, with more teaching-only universities, and two-year degree courses as standard rather than the exceptions.”

    Where on earth is all this coming from?

  • Richard Hill 9th Oct '10 - 8:43pm

    Having so many people going to university, even if it doesn’t really suit them, seems to be part of the problem. Everything seems to be getting dumbed down these days. Ithink it was just another exspesive way of Labour fiddling the unemployment figures. What should be done is raise the standard at university so fewer people go. Look at society and train other people for what is really needed. People have a happier life doing things that are of value and suits their capability. At least that is my experience. I am only just starting to realise how thick these characters with degrees really are about some things and most politicians just do what will get them the most votes.

  • @Stephen Tall

    Tuition fees are on their way out

    How on earth do you manage to jump to that conclusion?

  • @Richard Hill
    Have a look at the university participation rates in other countries. Think about the type of economy the UK has and is likely to have in future. You may then change your view about how many people need to be educated in HE. I never agreed with Labour’s idea of a target figure but as an indicator it was not far out.

  • @jayu
    Rather than on the way out they look like they are here to stay. I almost wondered if Stephen was helping with the spin!! Tuition fees are a misnomer in many respects. We have an odd deferred fee scheme based on a graduate contribution. Maybe Vince thinks he can be crafty and say we no longer have fees but a graduate contribution while merely tweaking the system and hiking the cost.

  • So Cable is in favour of graduate contributions, based on a fair system. Very much like the status quo then. Although it does have to be said that neither Clegg nor Cable are in favour of stated LibDem HE policy.

  • Catherine Smart 9th Oct '10 - 10:00pm

    The future is the past
    The only really fair system is to fund universities out of taxation then the better paid contribute more.

    What is wrong with going back to an old policy (and slogan) “a penny on income tax for ediucation”? It needs a slight tweek so it says “a penny on income tax for further education” ? I chose “further” as the qualifying word as i would like to include university & futher education but also mature apprenticeships.
    The money could be immediate which graduate taxation and loan repayments aren’t
    Plenty of people will be looking for a career change and funded mature apprenticeships could attract them
    It really would be progressive and fair.
    It is recognisably a Lib Dem policy.
    The only box it doesn’t tick is the devolved one but with a bit of thought that could be managed. I am sure

    As a councillor in a student area – count me out of supporting breaking a manifesto pledge and defending a rsie in tuition fees

  • Vince talked a good game at the Conference but his actions are beginning to make him look foolish.

    Fees are going to skyrocket.
    You know it, I know it, everyone knows it.
    Sadly vince seems fine with it and higher interest rates for the better off is a pitiful fig leaf that will do little to cover the shame that will be felt at Nick and his ministers caving in to Cameron yet again. This is going to be utter poison on the doorstep.

  • I got the email before I cam here.

    Well that’s it then, I can no longer support the Lib Dems.

    Vince Cable and Nick Clegg are dumping the manifesto commitment to abolish tuition fees purely because the Tory party want to raise them this parliament.

    I thought graduate tax was fair, if your degree enables you to earn more money you pay more money back.

    That said, tuition fees could easily be abolished just through a rise in other taxes, a mansion tax, corporation tax up to the EU average, increased inheritance tax.

    The only reason they are not sticking up for it is because keeping the other demographics on side is much more important to them than the student vote.

    A ‘progressive alternative’ is just what Browne was supporting when he suggested more bursaries for poor students… but that is not the same thing as free education.

    In what world is it right to saddle people with £30,000+ in debt before they have even begun earning, then increase the interest rate.

    Again, the student vote is expendable.

    The people that this really hits are middle class students with families that earn 60K. (or with Browne’s recommendation 38K) What if both parents work their arses off and earn 30K p.a., and they have no disposable income, or simply don’t give income to their children (like in my case).

    Why is there an assumption that all parents are like Dave’s or George’s.. what happens when they can’t afford or don’t do what they are ‘expected’ to do (i.e. pay part of the child’s education).

    That is what Ed means by the squeezed middle I suppose.

    Lib Dems have lost my membership and vote for good.

  • The most amusing thing is seeing how Cable disgustingly runs over himself to try and make the abandoment of the manifesto commitment a ‘progressive’ thing… that this is somehow ‘lib dem policy’ and not the sycophantic justification of a regressive Tory attack on the middle class and students.

    I hope there will be riots.

  • Apparently it would cost approximately 4 billion to pay for every students degree annually.

    Raising corporation tax to the European average would bring in 8 billion+ a year.

    And what do the Toryies (now Lib Dems I suppose) do? They lower corporation tax and raise student fees in a desperate attempt at Americanising our country’s education. You know, America, the country with some of the worst education at high-school and undergraduate levels in the western world.

    Not a suprise from the government that wants to allow Fox News 2 to take root here.

  • Paul Martin 9th Oct '10 - 10:40pm

    I voted Liberal Democrat in the last General election. Having two youngsters hoping to go to university in the next three years, the policy of a phased abolition of tuition fees was a major reason for our vote.

    All I can say is thank you for betraying our hopes. I thought your party had a modicum of decency.

    After such a slap across the face I can state that I will never vote for such an unprincipled gang again. A party that lies has no right to my vote. More than that I hope every Lib Dem MP. candidate or councillor feels the heat from the publc over this betrayal.

    I have seen principles dropped at breakneck speed in the last few months. You have simply dragged politics into the gutter. As someone who was intending to be active in the campaign for electoral reform, I can no longer stomach doing anything alongside such a disgusting party. Shame on you for teaching our youngsters that democracy is rooted in lies at least when it comes to careerist Lib Dems who look more and more like Tories every day – just without the integrity!

  • Deeply disappointing..
    and as for Stephen Tall’s Xray specs

    “1. Tuition fees are on their way out; but a graduate tax won’t replace it.” – on there way out???? on there way up. At the end of this parliament fees will be much higher than they are today. Agreed by all I think.

    “2. Don’t expect an immediate Coalition Government response to the Browne Review.” – there will not be an immediate response, because it will recomend doubling fees. Which the torys would quite happily do, but how will that go down with the surviving LibDem voters. Tough times, but I think point 1 gives us a clear indication of what is going to happen and the voters can go…………

    “3. Vince’s priority is reforming the HE system first, before sorting HE funding.” – It may be, but the last time there was a great reform of HE, the result was the Uni of Buckingham. This time it will be Phoenix. I wonder where they will build it? Any ideas?

    Sorry, but I just don’t see where Stephen gets this from. Vince said, that the LibDems are doing a 180 degree on fees. Read it and weep, I did.

  • Well, nuts to this. Not only is is bad policy, but it also does untold damage to us electorally (not that that is or should be the key motivator, but I can’t entirely ignore it either).

  • John Roffey 9th Oct '10 - 10:58pm

    I would prefer to receive an email from VC explaining his support for the Indian trade deal which includes significant immigration from India. Perhaps he believes the nation will not require to train many graduates as the majority required will be Indian and educated at India’s expenses.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/8051349/India-trade-deal-with-EU-will-allow-thousands-of-immigrants-into-Britain.html

  • TheContinentalOp 9th Oct '10 - 10:59pm

    Think the critics can drop the ConDem tag now. Con will more than suffice.

  • I doubt that we will have to wait that long for a response to Browne – in general in politics you might as well get on with things. My assumption is that we will get more heterogeneity in fees, and the requirement to provide large bursaries if fees rise. But stopping giving big subsidies to people from very affluent backgrounds, as well as European students, would be in line with our manifesto committments. Remember that about half of the 3-As students, and so half the people at our top univs, are privately educated. Does it make sense to subsidise them? Charging them private school fees of £12k a year (about half the fee at many US institutions) would be progressive, surely?

    Tim Leunig (not the Tim earlier in this thread)

  • We could have lots of arguments about the different funding ways of higher education but the fundamental point is again we see the LDs giving in to the Tories.

    Was it that you never believed in the policies in your manifesto or is it that they were just badly thought out and never realistic? Whatever it is you do not come out of this smelling of roses.

    If your party believes the graduate tax is the best way for funding then make your own proposals and put them in from of the HoC to decide – in opposition to the Tory plans. Coalition does not mean submission.

    If you think that increases in tuition fees were the only way to go and you made a mistake then come out and explain to all the students who voted for you on that basis what you got wrong and apologise

  • @LDV Bob “Fees are going to skyrocket.”

    Already happening due to the amount of courses that are no longer partially funded, although I’m not sure it’s fair to blame the coalition for this, contrary to popular belief the education sector were already making cuts and changes under Labour.

  • with more teaching-only universities, and two-year degree courses as standard rather than the exceptions

    I flipping well hope not. The point of a university education is to be taught the latest information as it is researched. My Dad who is an Engineering Professor updates all of his lectures from his and other research every year. I bet you lecturers at teaching only universities wouldn’t do that as they wouldn’t have to keep up with the latest research developments in order to teach whereas research and teaching lectures have to be up to date in order to research.

    Two year degrees are also a piss take, sorry but if its two years it is NOT a degree as you can’t (or shouldn’t be able to) learn a 3 year course in 2 years (unless its one of those courses currently taught in about 6 hours lectures a week and you increase the number of lectures but it#’d be simpler to just abolish these non subject degrees). We already have HNDs for those that can’t or don’t want to do a full 3 year degree.

  • Grammar Police 9th Oct '10 - 11:38pm

    @ Paul Martin – what a nonsense post.

    If you really understood about the need for parliamentary reform, you would realise that it’s nothing to do with whether you support the Liberal Democrats or not, it’s about ensuring that voters receive something along the lines of what they voted for.

    In any event, did you not read the bit in Vince’s email that says “fair access for all, regardless of background; and a progressive funding structure . . . I am entirely committed to a progressive system of graduate contributions, the details of which we will be able to confirm shortly.”

    What do you think this means?

    Actually, don’t answer, ‘cos I suspect you’re a Labour troll (and not a real Lib Dem supporter) anyway.

    @ Robin Amos, if you’re a member, perhaps wait to see what’s being suggested before you make assumptions?

    @ Catherine Smart – a penny on income tax sounds good but (a) do the figures actually add up and (b) this isn’t a majority Lib Dem Government. It’s a coalition with 300 plus Tories in it – compromises have to be reached. This is a hugely important issue for me – I was in the first year of students to pay tuition fees and it’s one of the reasons I first got involved in politics. But I am going to wait to see what is suggested before I get annoyed about it.

  • I entirely agree that fees were on the way up and Labour are directly implicated in that rise.
    The problem is they are going to continue to rise even more steeply for the forseeable future and we can’t spin our way out of that given our promises to the electorate. Unless Liberal Democrat MPs begin to exercise some long overdue independence and point out that these rises are Cameron and Osborne’s idea, then Liberal Democrats will feel the full wrath from the public on this one.

  • Having been a long standing member and Lib Dem voter all I can say after this latest betrayal is “Never Again”!
    (At least whilst Clegg is still party leader).

    My resignation letter is in the post. At least under Ed Miliband there is one UK political party that is willing to support a graduate tax as an alternative to higher tuition fees. Will most likely switch my support to Labour now.

  • A handful of final thoughts:
    – we do need to wait to see what is actually proposed. A revamped version of the current system with a progressive element to repaying might be more acceptable than we think. Arguably the current system is better than we often think in that there are no immediately payable up front fees and those on lowest incomes get a decent deal in terms. Not ideal but not as horrendous as often believed – student numbers did not fall.
    – part of this whole debate is bedevilled by terms that confuse and often not understood in detail
    – the worry has to be whilst the introduction of fees did add some new money into the university system without the Govt cutting back it now seems as if a fee increase is now simply to plug the gap left by cuts
    – I wonder if Vince shouldn’t make a play for a full cross party consensus on this. Labour doesn’t have a fully fledged policy on this and could Vince act as broker? What better demonstration of new politics, Lib Dem effectiveness etc could there be and at the same time the fallout for us might be lessened.
    – I also wonder if we have in the past strayed into ill thought through attachment to our fees policy. I’ve supported it strongly but have at times wondered whether we have overused it. I know half a dozen seats were won by it but it could be that the cost of dropping a flagship policy is much greater than that.

  • TheContinentalOp 10th Oct '10 - 12:28am

    A serious message to Lib Dem members. Wake up. Keep dismissing angry and concerned Lib Dem voters as ‘Labour Trolls’ and you will be obliterated at the ballot box.

  • Peter 1919 – it would be perfectly possible for teaching only univs to update their lectures every year – you don’t need to be doing research yourself to do that, what you need to do is keep up with research. That means you need time to keep up with research, but not time to do research.

  • @tim but what incentive is there for lecturers not doing research to do that? There are no real assessments of the quality and up to dateness of university lectures. Research lecturers have to be up to date with the latest research or else they risk being left behind and losing their research funding, this obviously is not the case with non research lecturers.

  • I voted LibDem as I agreed with their manifesto. Today I had to remind myself of their claims re tuition fees. Yes, it’s still there on the official LibDem website. “What we stand for” !!!! (My emphasis). It says “Liberal Democrats are the only party which believes university education should be free and everyone who has the ability should be able to go to university and not be put off by the cost”
    Really??? Clegg mocked Labour (and Tories) for breaking electoral promises. With breakneck speed, now ‘in power’ they are prepared to ditch the key policies that differentiated them from others. Either a) they have demonstrated that they are incapable of developing responsible and practical policies of b) they have no feeling of principle or integrity in regards to what they say and then do. Either way they are unfit to govern. Although that in itself is increasingly a delusion since this is not a ConDem colaition but simply a Tory Govt. I feel ashamed, duped and betrayed that I voted for the LibDems. I shall NEVER do so again.

  • Many of the people posting seem under the impression that we won the General Election. We didn’t , we have to compromise.

    The real betrayal is that the last Government encouraged hundreds of thousands of people to go to crap universities to do useless degrees under the impression that this would improve their career chances. Instead it just means they are doing the same jobs but with student debts as well.

  • One of the saddest things that I am seeing are LibDem supporters having to justify to the public the breaking of promises they made to the electorate and the language being deployed to do it. Both here and in the welfare benefit debate I am seeing arguments being used by supposedly liberal supporters that wouldn’t be out of place on any Conservative forum. The phrase that thousands of students are just being conned into going to university just to do useless degress is the sort of lazy line of thinking I really thought LibDems would not stoop to….

  • SMcG – frankly this does not wash. The figures were public before the election. Whatever the faults of Labour and there were many you are going to have to stop blaming them for selling out so comprehensively. The LibDems did NOT have to go into coalition. Oh, of course, I forgot it was in the National interest. How precisely is supporting every Tory policy and ditching the ones we voted for in the National interest? Unless you mean that the Tories policies are in the national interest. Well, I do not believe this is the case. If I wanted Tory policies I would have voted for them. It is so sad to see the Lib Dems become nothing more than apologists for Tory policy. You have simply achieved nothing other than to embolden the Tory Govt. Wake up! I voted for a Lib Dem manifesto. Clegg -remember? He said it was the one that was costed etc. what a huge disappointment. My experiment with Lib Dems is well and truely at an end.

    Oh and by the way as much as I objected to Labour’s policies on Iraq and the erosion of civil liberties – it is just pathetic to blame the entire economic mess on G Brown. Was he also responsible for the crashing economies everywhere else? Where were the policy speeches demanding tougher regulation for Clegg and Cameron before the crash? Simply, the banks screwed us all – everywhere plain and simple. The recession then put the budget out of balance. The question is who pays? With the Condems Govt, day by day it becomes clearer – those who can least afford to. Even allowing for the one glorious concession on tax allowances. No wonder 85% of Tories are happy? Ever wondered why?

    If we want someting progreessive raise income tax. Why only cuts? Let’s pay for services paid based on the ability to pay.

    So yes I do feel conned and betrayed by the LibDems – I thought, or at least I had hoped, for better. Patronsing disaffected LibDem voters is not a winning strategy. Or perhaps they don’t care now you have power. Dreadful.

  • Exactly how much more is Nick going to take before he realises enough is enough and finally gets off his knees ?

    Surely after seeing today’s pathetic Mail attack he must realise that his close friendship with Cameron means absolutely nothing to the right wing press and he is wasting his time trying to become a Conservative ?

    EVen worse are the reports that the announcement expected on Tuesday could confirm that tuition fees may rise by up to £10,000 a year, with some to predicting the total cost of a degree for the most expensive courses, including living expenses, could soon reach as high as £80,000.

    How do we think this is going to go down with what support we still have ?

    Almost as bad, Vince’s warm words about adding some tiny fig leaf of progressivity into the system are just that, words. The Conservatives have already parked their tanks on the lawn with the likes of Carswell and the right telling Cameron that Vince’s ideas are Stalinist nonsense they will fight tooth and nail.
    Do we really think this token gesture will either satisfy our votes or even get implemented without Nick relenting to Cameron on most of the Tory rights objections and diluting measures they have planned for it ? Nick has sadly shown that there is nothing he won’t do to keep Cameron happy and instead of leading the charge with Vince across the airwaves on Student Fees, an entire plank of Liberal Democrat electoral policy and credibility has vanished not so much with a bang but with the whimper of Vince’s email.

    The Mail nonsense today is symptomatic of the way things are going. Cameron will phone up Nick telling him he had nothing to do with it and he would never sanction such an atack on a friend like Nick, while Osborne and the right laugh themselves hoarse in the background.

    Compromise is one thing, abject submission is quite another.
    The coalition must be strong enough for Liberal Democrat MPs to distance themseves and attack those things they do not agree with or it is not a coalition. It is a wholesale Conservative takeover.

  • Grammar Police 10th Oct '10 - 9:14am

    @ Orby – sure, the economic conditions cannot be blamed on Brown – but the sheer amount of public spending / public debt can be. The combination of the two is pretty toxic.

    As for the people who feel “conned and betrayed” (and I’m under no illusions that a decent number of those people who post about this on LibDemVoice are actually supporters of other parties trying to cause trouble – even if some aren’t), two quick points: (1) on on this specific issue, we’ve not actually seen what the Government will bring forward yet, there’s already people rushing about saying how terrible it is. If someone is doing that, they’re already minded to see the worst in what the Government does and will complain whatever happens. I note the use of the word “pure” in Vince’s email. That’s there for a reason.
    (2) I think some people don’t seem to understand the nature of coalition. We’re not always going to get exactly what we want. I’m genuinely shocked if people actually expect us to implement our manifesto exactly, given there are 300+ Tories in Parliament and a huge chunk of them in Government. But the Government isn’t implementing the Tory manifesto either, instead a combination of the two. It’s not a “betrayal” to have to compromise with people you disagree with. If those people actually think a minority Tory Govt followed by another election and a majority Tory Govt is in the “national interest” I wish they’d say so. At least then we’d all know where we stand.

  • Grammar Police 10th Oct '10 - 9:19am
  • Patrick Smith 10th Oct '10 - 9:20am

    I advocate the reading of Vince Cable`s speech on `Higher Education’ on 15/7 that represented a trenchant and was a comprehensive digest, on all angles on the current fiscal pressures facing the Higher Education provision.

    Currently higher education is provided in 160 centres and there is a real frightening horror of rising of fees and cost of living amongst students,especially the growing expected number in the future of larger numbers of mature and part-time students.

    Clearly,there are `No Wins’ or easy solutions.

    I would suggest that better there be a full post Browne Report debate on all the options available before decisions are made from our `Coalition Government’.

    It remains important for the majority of decision makers to be fully cognizant that apprenticeships and vocational courses provide highly skilled employable graduates and are vitally to promote in the mixed Economy.

    I do not however,support any increase of `Tutition Fees’, as the already high starting point theshold,to add to the existing burden of undebtedness is morally wrong.

    Personal debt is already piling up at the doors of most students in 2010 and this will hang around their necks in future life, whatever their future career paths and choices.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 10th Oct '10 - 9:24am

    I’m baffled by this.

    Only two months ago we were being told (by the same person who wrote the article above!) that Cable’s “graduate contribution” was actually synonymous with a graduate tax and that according to Cable Cameron fully supported the plan:
    http://www.libdemvoice.org/vince-cameron-is-100-behind-my-graduate-tax-proposals-20620.html

    Now we’re told that Cable has rejected a graduate tax and (on what basis I can’t fathom) that sorting this out isn’t even a priority any more. The first thing that’s going to be done is to change the university system beyond recognition in various ways that weren’t even hinted at in either the Lib Dem manifesto or the coalition agreement.

    It would be shambolic if it wasn’t so farcical.

  • Terence Kelley 10th Oct '10 - 10:02am

    This is a betrayal, pure and simple. But wose than that, Vince has betrayed his own principles.

    Either he was misleading us back then to grab votes. Or has sold out now in an attempt to keep power.

    I personally feel frustrated that one of my main reasons to vote libdem, an apparently decent, intelligent man with principles (far too rare in our current political system) uses compromise as an excuse.

    I am refreshed by the libdem voters, member and activists above who are objecting to this. Right now I feel like I’ve been mugged. Maybe I have, but at least I’m not alone.

    For all our sakes – take your party back.

  • Stuart Mitchell 10th Oct '10 - 10:15am

    Stephen: “Vince has been careful never to use the term ‘graduate tax’, though the media has paid little attention to Vince’s words”

    Quite – even a certain Stephen Tall wrote an article for LDV on 8th August entitled “Vince: Cameron is ‘100% behind’ my graduate tax proposals” !!!

    Lib Dem MPs helped spread the confusion. On 19th July Tim Farron wrote an LDV article entitled “Graduate tax is the fairest way of abolishing tuition fees”, in which he wrote :- “The business secretary Vince Cable this week suggested that one way of [funding universities] could be to bring in a graduate tax.”

    Perhaps the media simply can’t see the difference between a graduate contribution (Cable’s phrase) and a graduate tax. Quite frankly, nor can I.

    Can any Cable-apologist please explain, for the benefit of myself, Tim and Sephen, exactly what the difference is between a graduate contribution and a graduate tax?

  • @ Grammar Police

    Quote”As for the people who feel “conned and betrayed” (and I’m under no illusions that a decent number of those people who post about this on LibDemVoice are actually supporters of other parties trying to cause trouble – even if some aren’t”End Quote

    Why is it that as soon as someone posts something negavtive about the Libdems they are immedialty accused of being from another parties and out to cause trouble.
    I have said before in a previous post that although I had always been a labour supporter in the past, At the last election I had switched my vote to Liberal Democrats.
    However I am becoming increasingly dissapointed with myself for making that switch and I feel I have a right to express my views on LDV without being accused of being a labour troll.
    I would also like to point out the following text from the site
    “Liberal Democrat Voice is an independent, collaborative website run by Liberal Democrat activists, where any individual inside or outside the party can express their views. Views expressed on this website are those of the individuals who express them and may not reflect those of the party”

    I am not being naive either, ofcourse there are some people who come here from other parties and attempt to score political points. Are you suggesting that Libdems don’t do the same on labour blogs?

    At the end of the day Liberal Democrats are in a coalition government and people have a right to put questions to LD Party, Activists and Supporters.
    And to be quite fair to people. You are going to see far more people turning to blogs like these in an attempt to get some understanding and information from LD due to the lack of Liberal Democrat MP’s in the media giving interviews on these proposed cuts and policies.
    (Why LD MP’s are not allowed to critisise Conervative policies in the media is beyond me. If it is true the Nick Clegg signed some disclosure that prevented LD’s from doing this, then that seems like political suicide to me and very undemocratic)

    Quote “I think some people don’t seem to understand the nature of coalition. We’re not always going to get exactly what we wantC, given there are 300+ Tories in Parliament and a huge chunk of them in Government. But the Government isn’t implementing the Tory manifesto either, instead a combination of the two”End Quote

    Exactly what part of LD manifesto are you getting?
    Coference Voted not to change “Child Benefit” Cons announce changes to “Child Benefits”
    Tories want to introduce Marriage tax allowence to include High rate Tax Payers- Nothing in colaition agreement .
    LD Manifesto to abolish tuition fee’s by end of parliment and decrease fee’s years on year- Tories want to Increase tution fee’s and colaition agreement allows LD to abstain from vote (Abstain is not the same as voting No and will allow Tory Policy to go through) And I believe would be the nail in the coffin for the Liberal Democrat Party.

    What part of the Tories Manifesto are you seriously saying that they are not getting supporting or Abstaining from the vote which still allows there policy to go through.

    I want to bring you back to this point again Quote”I’m genuinely shocked if people actually expect us to implement our manifesto exactly, given there are 300+ Tories in Parliament”End Quote.
    I don’t think people do expect Libdems to be able to get through all their manifesto.
    BUT WE DO EXPECT them to be RESPONIBLE coaltion partners in government and appose Policies that are draconian, unfair, regressive and those that break election promises.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 10th Oct '10 - 11:51am

    “See my blog on Conservative Home this morning at http://bit.ly/bcjm9F or the longer analysis at http://bit.ly/bW5YtI

    Thanks for those links. I found that quite illuminating.

    I suppose in the context of your analysis the crucial difference between a “graduate tax” and a “graduate contribution” is that a “tax” could have been presented as a replacement for fees, but for a “contribution” that would be much more difficult. If the first objection in Cable’s letter implies that it would be unfair for anyone to pay more than the cost of their course, then it’s difficult to see a “contribution” as anything other than a just different way of paying your fees.

  • @Grammar Police
    ” (and I’m under no illusions that a decent number of those people who post about this on LibDemVoice are actually supporters of other parties trying to cause trouble – even if some aren’t)”

    I am only on this forum because I can not get any reply from the Lib Dem party(both local and national)/ or MP’s despite trying. Perhaps actual Lib Dems MAY read the posts from us disallusioned Lib Dem voters and take note.
    My daughter has graduated and is terrified by her debt, she will not even speak about it and my son is in his second year. Even though any rise in fees may not affect them, interest rates will. We voted for you with tution fees being a major influence. There will be many like us. I think Mr Cable is softening you up to accept a rise in fees and/or interest rates but all Lib Dem Mp’s who signed the pledge should vote against any rises if this should happen. If they abstain or vote for them then that will be an incredible betrayal to the electorate. I do not think we should wait for the report. before we speak out. Considering the attacks on the disabled nodded through by Clegg and co we have reason to fear.

  • I think there’s a lot of hyperbole in the comments in this section. I would find an increase in student fees an extremely worrying development but we don’t know any details about what is actually being proposed. The worst might well be the case but we simply don’t know.

    Now, to be honest, though I wouldn’t call this a deal-breaker, it is an issue of some concern for me. I realise that coalition politics necessitate compromise and I think that a good thing but I would quite like it if my party shouted a bit louder and eked every drop it can from this position – I feel that too much is being lost for the sake of “unity”. This said, I would be unlikely to shift from my position of largely voting LD – namely because there’s nowhere really to go and actually not voting is a waste – I’ll just have to hope for a better coalition arrangement (if any) next time if this one turns out badly,

    With the other parties Greens’ seem too anti-science (their position on animal testing is ludicrous), Tories are Tories and they’d need a damn good candidate for me to ignore the party logo and just go for the name and the continuity Liberal party seem to . As for Labour – well, the Labour trolls (they exist – generally they’re the ones who complain in EVERY thread) have pushed me largely away from considering the party for the meanwhile, I really hope that they realise that they’ll achieve a lot more for their party by just shutting the ___ up for once.

  • Sorry for really bad grammar.

    Paragraph “What part of the Tories Manifesto are you seriously saying that they are not getting supporting or Abstaining from the vote which still allows there policy to go through”

    Should have said.

    What part of the Tory Manifesto are you seriously saying they are not getting? LibDems are either being bullied by Tories to support these policies, or they are allowed to Abstain. Abstaining still allows the policy to go through.
    At the end of the day Libdems are being forced to lose their identity.

    Again sorry for the bad grammar. I was brought up in a family on benefits due to having a disabled father and I Couldn’t afford to go into higher Education or university as I needed to get out to work at 16 to be able to help support my parents.
    I lived through and was educated in a Tory Government before who prevented people from less well off backgrounds from achieving a better education and aspirations. But I never once for the life of me thought I would see the day when history started repeating itself with the support of the Liberal Democrat Party!

  • @Mike Lee

    My resignation letter may well also be shortly following after 25 years . Vince has becoeme the Yes No yes No man of politics changing his mind every week… in reality being outwitted but not having the grace to admit it . .. and then I realise he is actaually one of our better government ministers and i think whats happened to our party . Taken over by neo cons who seem to have turned previously right minded Lib dems into ‘Stepford Wives’ . As I am going through one of my quieter political times at the moment resignation is an easier option for me than some . However those that choose to remain including Vince , have a duty to fight this ‘millitant tendancy’ style take over of the party by a few .

  • This is all wrong. I just hope the party collectively comes together, lobbies our MPs and votes down the package. Unlike others, I will stick in there simply because our gut instincts is against this.

  • Anne, not every Liberal Democrat is willing to throw away support by unthinking contempt and dismissal of criticism and dissent as the voices partisan troublemakers in some kind of convoluted disguise. Nobody who holds left of centre views should be bullied out of the Party by the right. They should hold their ground and reject the option of defecting to Labour.

    The Policy has not been set in stone yet, but it is pretty clear to some of us that the direction of travel is not good. I would however say that this is an issue on which enough Liberal Democrat MPs signed the pledge to ensure that this will not go through without a fight or at least without some Liberal Democrat MPs finally standing up and being counted. We are going to have to go head to head against Cameron and the Conservatives in a few short months on AV and in next years elections. So it has long passed the time that Nick let his MPs of the leash and started to let them and himself disagree with the Tories openly and publicly.

    Sadly this will not help those in dire straights like yourself and your family, but it would at least be a signal that you and a great many others like you are being heard and not just pushed thoughtlessly into the arms of Labour.

    We cannot fight all our battles in the past but it must always be remembered that Blair was the driving force behind the move to fees to begin with. And his malign influence has not left the upper echelons of the Labour Party with a shadow cabinet that still has many of his acolytes inside it.

  • @Terence Kelley

    Cable and Clegg have wanted to dump the LibDem HE policy. Like the Tories they are using the deficit as cover. The question is, will the LibDem membership allow it? Don’t forget, as it will be Cable who introduces this, the LibDems will own the new policy.

  • terence kelley 10th Oct '10 - 1:37pm

    jayu, thanks for the clarification. I suspect that like many first time (dare I say one-time) LibDem voters at the last election I was unaware of the internal strife within the Libdems. The words ‘orange book’ or whatever were entirely unknown.

    I simply took the words like ‘fair’ and ‘progressive’ at face value in those simpler times. They now set alarm bells ringing to the extent that I assume the user is not to be trusted.

    Hey. Ho. You live and learn.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 10th Oct '10 - 1:37pm

    “Don’t forget, as it will be Cable who introduces this, the LibDems will own the new policy.”

    Fiendishly cunning, those Tories. Allowing the Lib Dems to abstain on nuclear power and student fees, but then making Lib Dem ministers responsible for those issues …

  • @ William Cullerne Brown

    Maybe, maybe not but I am not selfish and I do not want to see any student suffer. The burden on my own children is horrendous already and I fear for future students. We do not all care just for our own! My parents never got into debt, I have never been in debt and I obviously passed the fear of debt on. I feel very guilty now that I encouraged my children to go to university when now there is very little hope for jobs. My daughter has extended her working gap year abroad as there are no jobs here. It was the Labour Govt who made debt OK and the coalition who is going to worsen that situation.

  • John Fraser 10th Oct '10 - 2:25pm

    @Mark Pack
    Do you still reckon its still just a few malcontents who are winging about our principles of fairness behind our manifestos being ditched . Just out of curiosity is there a policy beyond which you would not go ?

    Not only have we ditched our policies but even the likes of Vince is indulging in the Spin we always claimed to hate . He was breifing the press three weeks ago on a graduate tax and is now claiming black is white and white is black . May well not be around for this particular fight but a party without a soul is worth nothing however many MP it has or has not .

  • Disgusting. I can and have taken a lot and defended some changes and swallowed a lot over the last few months but this is pretty much a back peddle to far for me, even if it doesn’t directly affect me (being Scottish) I still find it galling for him to try an dress up inevitable increases in tuition fees as progressive and back peddling on one of the oldest Liberal Democrat commitments.

  • Grammar Police wrote –
    “and I’m under no illusions that a decent number of those people who post about this on LibDemVoice are actually supporters of other parties trying to cause trouble”

    What a wonderful head in the sand attitude you have, things must be very rosy in your world, the sky is always blue, the sun is shining and the Daily Mail loves the Lib Dems.

  • John Fraser 10th Oct '10 - 3:45pm

    @Grammar Police

    Grammar Police wrote –
    “and I’m under no illusions that a decent number of those people who post about this on LibDemVoice are actually supporters of other parties trying to cause trouble”

    Who are youin real life . Are you actually in the party ? How long have you been in the party ? On what basis do you make these silly insulting allegations? What have you actualy done in the party.?

  • I don’t remember a policy of appeasement in the manifesto, maybe it should of been (at least that one would of been honoured) I wonder what ‘some’ posters would write if the Tories decide to invade Poland? claim it was a Lib Dem policy from the start?
    Sorry for the flippancy of this post and of course any Polish who happen to be here :)

  • Grammar Police
    Posted 10th October 2010 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    As for the people who feel “conned and betrayed” (and I’m under no illusions that a decent number of those people who post about this on LibDemVoice are actually supporters of other parties trying to cause trouble – even if some aren’t)

    To those who are offended by this comment, please quote it in full. I do feel conned because I voted Lib Dem, but I have been traditionally a Labour supporter, I think this is what Grammar Police is trying to convey, people who don’t have their heart and soul in the Lib Dem party are quick to pour scorn at them because in all reality, it’s not their party of choice.

    We all need to appreciate that they have gone into coalition, they can’t unleash their manifesto because of that, so please try and put your arguments in a realistic context.

    Personally I feel the Lib Dems are conceding too much, but they have to make some concessions.

  • All of the factors Vince mentions were rather obvious from the beginning, so it doesn’t look like he’s being particularly honest in trotting out these as reasons for a change in view, now.

    What’s gone wrong is that our economy doesn’t really need two thirds or so of our young people to go through university, and if we continue with the “university for all” line then graduate unemployment (or under-employment) will continue to rise.

  • Why haven’t I seen this email? I think the last one was something about Lib Dem punching above their weight. University tuition fees is obviously an important and defining issue for Lib Dems and emblematic of the Labour government.

    Let us talk of fairness however; where is the fairness in tuition fees? All students do not benefit equally and never will. No one seems to suggest that Science degrees should cost more, with good pragmatic reasons, yet this would be the logic of some who favour tuition fees. Another logic would ask for a contribution from employers (or are they not looking for graduates?) Then there is the debt issue: is there any level of debt that is unacceptable? Repayment is through the tax system so it is effectively an arbitrary and regressive graduate tax. As Vince Cable appears to acknowledge, students who move abroad can avoid repayment.

  • We know George Osborne announced the child benefit cut without putting it to Cabinet. Nick and Vince heard of it on the news just like the rest of us (or Cameron might have called them the night before just to make them feel important but I doubt it). Cameron later made promises to married couples without any consultation. We also know that Nick Cleggs speech to the conference was reviewed and approved by Cameron.

    My point is when Tories make sacrifices they at least got a govt to show for it. What did LibDems get out of it? Nothing.

  • Wahey! Just keeping reneging on manifesto commitments and see how many of us vote Libdem again.

  • Tony Dawson 10th Oct '10 - 8:28pm

    Both Conservatives and Lib Dem members should be looking very carefully at what the government is proposing. The Acadamies Bill was a total ideological waste of money. Not in the Coalition Agreement and just a sop to Cameron’s mate Gove which we could ill-afford as a nation The Child Benefit proposal shows a preference for taking money from middle class people with kids rather than taking a smaller amount from all middle class people – ie just an ideological refusal to raise general income taxation and also inefficient to apply. Now this – no we do not have the details yet but I can tell you that eighteen year olds from poorer families are already balking at the idea of student debt of 10-15 thousand pounds and thumping this up is not going to help equality in access to the best courses and best careers. What might be better would be to face up to the fact that we are creating far too many graduates in subjects with no serious use in the employment market. This surplus is going to get worse as things stand. Lib Dem and Tory back benchers as well as Labour MPs should give this proposal a serious scrutiny before allowing it forward. Even St Vincent can be wrong some times.

  • With two young sons hoping to go to university this is a body blow.A raise in tuition fees will cause hardship to not only students but also to the parents who have to dig deep into their own pockets.
    What have the Lib Dems gained from this coalition?Lib Dem voters are being kicked in the teeth.Seems to me the LIB Dems are doing the conservatives dirty work.
    Lib Dem members must stand up and tell their MPs no more.

  • Emsworthian 10th Oct '10 - 9:03pm

    All this reminds me of the old song ‘4 wheels on my wagon and I’m still rolling along’
    Sounds like the last one has just fallen off the Lib Dem wagon but we’re still rolling along.

  • I think the Lib Dem MPs need to fight this to oppose a big hike in fees. I’ve backed the spending cuts and benefits reductions, because they are the right thing to do, but every Lib Dem MP backed the fees pledge and that has to mean something. Unfortunately, abstention was in the Coalition agreement.

  • From the email
    Second, foreign students could end up paying less than some UK graduates, because taxes cannot be collected from people living in other countries. This is not fair either.

    This is not an argument. There is no way that foreign students would be treated in the same way as those from the UK. They pay more now and do not qualify for uk student finance. Does anyone really think that they would still not have to pay upfront fees as now?

  • @Anne

    That’s not correct. EU students must be offered the same funding options as those afforded to UK students. This is one of the reasons why I would be opposed to a graduate tax.

  • We’re all still speculating on the outcome of this. That, no doubt, has muted some of the response. Perhaps it was to mute the response that we have had this peculiar leak by Cable, not about what has been agreed, but about what hasn’t.

    It does rather look as if the “progressive” element has been reduced to variable interest payments. In other words, we are going to price universities outside the range that poor people can afford, but, in the hypothetical circumstances that a few poor people might be able to afford it, those people will have a tiny bit less to repay than the rich. Wow, wonderful.

    Would Cable be any more humiliated if he had to wear a dunce’s cap when he announces the final agreement? Not much.

    Why are we staying in this coalition?

  • On the subject of abstaining, the AV Bill was in the coalition agreement but some Conservative MPs aren’t just sitting on their hands but actively trying to sabotage the Bill. So I think those Liberal Democrat MPs who stick to their pledge and vote against student fees will be able to do so with a clear conscience.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 11th Oct '10 - 8:21am

    The BBC reckons that “a progressive system of graduate contributions” may mean fees of £7000 for most courses and a market rate of interest for all but the poorest students:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-11512257

  • The problem with all Lib Dem MP’s lining up to vote down any tution fee rise is that the Tory right may jump at the chance to vote with you, destroying the coalition with it – thus leading to another election which the Tories at the moment would relish. On the other hand voting with or abstaining will infuriate many people who voted for the LibDems on the very basis that you would oppose any tuition fee rise. A very tricky place to be (and you can blame Clegg for being too quick off the mark to sign political pledges without thinking it through properly). Cable’s complete u-turn although intellectually probably correct has only stirred the pot unfavourably. On top of all that slavishly following the Cameron cuts line has left hardly any wiggle room now.

    The danger at the moment is the latest press reports seem to indicate we could get the worse of both worlds – increased tuition fees for all but they will also be open ended, so that the less well off (and indeed anybody on any average income) will never have the opportunity to pursue occupations which be reserved for the rich, followed up by paying interest on loans.

    I couldn’t at the moment think of a more divisive social program if I tried.

    Probably the best bet at the moment is for Lib Dem MP’s to dig their heels in on the basic tution fee issue and gulp down the poison of the interest rates, insisting that the cuts program is scaled back to accommodate this.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 11th Oct '10 - 9:13am
  • Neither the Tory right or the Cameroons want an election anytime soon. An election in the middle of the cuts would be catastrophic for the coalition Parties.

    We know there are Liberal Democrat MPs who will vote against fees and we have known that for quite some time. Student fees will not end the coalition any more than Trident will.

    However, David Davis and other Tories still seem to be intent on pushing through a 30% or even 60% amendment for the AV Bill. That would be far more damaging to the coalition than Liberal Democrat MPs fulfilling their pledges to the electorate.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/conservative/8052543/Tory-MPs-launch-revolt-against-voting-system-plans.html

  • Oh dear. This is the first time I cannot defend the LibDem part in this coalition.

    I’ve disagreed with plenty of stuff the govt has done, but I’ve understood it at the very least. But surely this goes too far. Very worrying indeed.

  • @jayu
    Are the EU students paying back now? I thought a large proportion were not as there is no repayment scheme in place. There are far more non EU students.

  • This is what happens when a fundamentellay centrist or centre-left party joins with a right-wing parrty. SOmething like this was bound to happen.

    The question you have to ask is… would it not have been more ethical for the Lib Dems to abstain from a coalition? They campaigned on a platform of opposition to everything that is being enacted by the Conservatives. Complain about Labour’s assualt on civil liberties all you want (even though the Conservatives joined in)… but on most social and economic issues the lib dems were far closer to Labour than the Conservatives… Nick Clegg can’t just drag the party to the right.

    This coailition was not workable from the beginning, not without selling the soul of the party. You have to as yourselves whether it would have been more damaging to have let the COnservatives rule ina minority government, where certain actions could be permitted but not others. You can’t hold up the ‘mitigation’ argument as an excuse… could Hugenburg say ‘We joined Hitler’s right-wing coalition in order to excercise influence and mitgate some of its effects’.

    Supporting a party which is campaigning on a diametrically opposed ideological platform is ethically wrong, whichever way you cut it.

  • Paul wrote –
    “destroying the coalition with it – thus leading to another election which the Tories at the moment would relish”

    I disagree, if there is an election tomorrow the only party that would gain would be Labour, Tory voters would still vote Tory, the same for Labour but for the Lib Dems… well, with a recent survey stating that up to half of Lib Dem voters said they would not have done so if they would of known a partnership with the Tories would result, it’s not hard to work out the result.
    My guess is if that were to happen, there would be a hung parliament but with Labour slightly ahead of the Tories (all those disaffected Lib Dem Voters), the Lib Dems would still hold the cards but with greatly reduced influence, Nick Clegg would resign in the resulting fallout and given the logic of the last election there would be a coalition with Labour and unfortunately the economy being what it is atm it would also guarantee a double dip even worse than otherwise be expected so in other words nobody should relish the prospect of another election as nobody would win everyone would lose one way or the other

    Yes I know I’ve let my imagination run away with me, but the above scenario is not totally out of the realms of possibility

  • Roy's Claret Army 11th Oct '10 - 4:03pm

    Great Betrayals

    Tories – Poll Tax after 8 Years
    Labour – Iraq after 6 years
    LibDems – Tuition Fees after 4 Months

    Electoral suicide pill. Go back to your constituencies and prepare to switch the power off.

  • I think that if anyone stays as a teacher or another service professional for 10 years or more their loan is paid for them by the govt… I know that the NHS pays for the fees of some students.

  • When will Liberal Democrats wake up and smell the coffee and see what the Tories are doing to them?

    Are ALL Liberal Democrats so unwilling to Acknowledge that maybe they have been used by Conservatives?

    There are Tories on one side of the party who regard the Lib Dem coalition with profound cynicism. They have only signed up to it because they thought it was vehicle for winning power and plan over time to destroy the Lib Dems and try to create the circumstances for a single party Tory government.

    This is the approach of the great majority of Conservative MPs, both inside and outside the government. It is the view of George Osborne and also taken by David Cameron’s director of communications Andy Coulson (hmmm where do i remember that name from)

    It is also being said that Tory backbenchers are planning to push for an ammendment on the AV.

    How far are Liberal Democrats going to let things go before taking some action.

    Sitting on the side lines and inaction is political suicide in my opinion.

  • @Ms Smart

    “as a councillor in a student area count me out of breaking a manifesto pledge and defending a rise in ituition fees”

    So, if you weren’t in a “student area”- could we count you in?

    Your hypocrisy is breathtaking and whatever you say, you won’t be believed, you’ve lied-by association -too many times.
    You and your opportunistic libdem cronies might as well start clearing your desks now , love.

  • Mark Wilson 12th Oct '10 - 6:28pm

    Senior figures in the Lib Dem hierarchy would do well to listen to siren voices that cannot stomach what appears to be a clear U turn on Tuition Fees. If there have to be changes on the Sudent Loan and not towards a Graduate Tax then ther should not be a change in the Fess at the same time. Bottom line is If the financal turn round cannot be achieved in 5 years without introducing this policy on Tuition Fees then the turn round will have to be increased to 6 or 7years to accommodate this. The 5 year rule only exists because that exactly now equals the lifetime of a Govt. This does not correlate to how quickly the deficit turnround “can” be increased to without damaging our children’s future.
    Be under no illusion I know Higher Education Reform needs to take place at the same time, i.e Relevance of Course to the modern world etc but as consumers in this new market Students have a role to play as “active” participants. How can they affect a market in this circumstance. Well they can affect the “demand” for Education. If students entered into a “mass” deferment in a particular academic year for instance this would concentrate the minds of the Universities wonderfully. The cost base of Universities given the current economic situation we are going through cannot escape untouched. Universities should not be restricted by Govt as to the number of places they can be allowed to offer students but the quid pro quo would have to be that Universities would have to look at the cost structures of all the courses they put on relative to the demand from students to take up those courses.
    If we are going to have a market in Higher Education then the Student, not the University should be getting value for money from the course they are taking.
    Demand should rule supply!!!

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