Opinion: Why free university tuition for all is deeply regressive in today’s Britain

Political speeches are usually replete with statistics, numbers culled without context and thrown in the path of critics like metaphorical stingers strewn across a motorway.

But one statistic from Nick Clegg’s conference speech which deserves to live and breathe in its own right is that in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (where I currently live) more than half of children progress from school to university. In the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (where I lived before moving to Hammersmith) the figure is that just 4% of children go to University. These Boroughs are thirty minutes away from ach other on the District line.

The Lib Dems fought the 2010 election on a policy, not supported by a majority of our then shadow cabinet but endorsed by the membership, of not increasing fees and of finding a fairer alternative to the tuition fee system — the system which Labour said they wouldn’t introduce in their 1997 manifesto, then introduced; and which they said they wouldn’t increase in their 2001 manifesto, and then increased.

When the Coalition announced plans to raise fees again, in 2010, Ed Milliband voted against the increase. He did so amid much vitriolic language targeted against the Lib Dems. Yet he has now announced that Labour would have increased them, too… just not by as much.

As a principal free education is deeply noble and fundamentally liberal, centring on delivering equality of opportunity, rather than relying on Labour’s social engineering to manufacture the mirage of equality of outcome. But as a policy is it progressive?

Lets travel into the world we all thought we might be in after the we heard Nick Clegg triumph in the first TV debate, a world in which the conference speech I referenced above is being delivered by Prime Minister Clegg, contemplating his first 500 days as the first Lib Dem leader of an overall majority government.

If that had happened, and if the Lib Dem government had then found a way to abolish tuition fees, would that actually be progressive? Would it be fair for the parents of Tower Hamlets, whose children have only a remote chance of making it to university, to have to pay the extra taxes… or experience the extra cuts necessary so that the children of Hammersmith and Fulham have free tuition?

There has been much debate, in the aftermath of the riots, about whether Britain is truly ‘broken’. Any society in which children at one end of the tracks have such a vastly greater chance of continuing their education than those half an hour away is undoubtedly broken; but subsidising the wealthier to varnish a principle while the less well-off fare no better or even fare worse, is not progressive.

This article does not aim to defend the new fees system introduced. Its good points are eroded by its naivete, for instance in thinking that only a small number of universities would charge the maximum allowable fee. The Coalition’s proposals do contain some good tweaks to a deeply flawed system, but when the objectives of the policy are misguided, a handful of improvements will not eradicate the failings.

Every government must prioritise, and the reality is that while third-level education in all of its incarnations since at least 1997, is not delivering equality of opportunity — but it can never do so until the schools system which provides the students has eliminated its own biases and hierarchies.

Until that happens, the abolition of tuition fees should remain a Lib Dem aspiration, but not a Lib Dem policy. Anything else would be regressive.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

34 Comments

  • “Would it be fair for the parents of Tower Hamlets, whose children have only a remote chance of making it to university, to have to pay the extra taxes… or experience the extra cuts necessary so that the children of Hammersmith and Fulham have free tuition?”

    ” but subsidising the wealthier to varnish a principle while the less well-off fare no better or even fare worse, is not progressive”

    Am I really reading this on a Lib Dem site?

    David Parkes – the average graduate earns £100k more than the average non-graduate during the course of their lifetime. Around half of that amount goes to the treasury in tax (in addition to the large fee repayments). Graduates, therefore, more than pay for the cost of their degree (given the additional tax/fees they pay during their lifetime). Non-graduates do not subnsidise graduates. For you to suggest they do demonstrates unbelievable ignorance.

    There is no such thing as free tuition. Under the old system, tuition was paid for from (mostly progressive) taxes. That has been mostly replaced with tuition fees (after an 80% reduction in the teaching budget), which are regressive above middle incomes (i.e. the rich pay less as a proportion of their salary). Notice, I’m using the actual definition of progressivity/regressivity, not just using the words because I think they sound cool and can be arbitrarily used to try and reinforce my opinion.

    Sorry if I appear emotive, but I really do find this kind of thing deeply disturbing. The debate over the funding of Higher Education over the last decade has been completely inadequate and the electorate have ended up with a system that nobody voted for. I can’t think of anything more profoundly undemocratic. We need a better quality of debate than trying to play to the fears of the uninformed.

  • Wow. Not quite what your party said before the election. You could forgive us for getting the impression that Nick Clegg & the Lib Dems thought fees were wrong. Like when he said plans to raise the cap were “wrong”. And when he promised the NUS that Lib Dems would “resist, vote against, campaign against any lifting of that cap”. When a Lib Dem press release said “you can’t built a future on debt”. When Clegg said “The Lib Dems are different. We will oppose any raising of the cap”.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXw7yqHfxDI.

    Still, there we are.

    The bit I really want to pick up on though is the customary slagging off of Labour. Baffling for two reasons: 1) if it’s actually progressive to charge fees, why slag Labour off for introducing them? and 2) it’s based on lies/ignorance of facts.

    Point 1) is self explanatory. Point 2) relates to:

    “the system which Labour said they wouldn’t introduce in their 1997 manifesto, then introduced; and which they said they wouldn’t increase in their 2001 manifesto, and then increased.”

    First, Labour didn’t say anything about fees in the 1997 manifesto. The manifesto actually said that higher education could not be funded by general taxation alone in the manifesto (a hint at willingness for fees or a graduate tax), but always pledged to act on the Dearing report, which was not written by May 1997. Labour did say they had no plans for fees, but then Cable & Clegg & Osborne said there were no plans for a VAT rise…

    Second, whilst Labour did say they would not introduce top-up fees in the 2001 manifesto, the increase in fees did not happen in that parliament – there was a whole other general election in 2005 before they were introduced. Had the public kicked Labour out in 2005, the new government could have scrapped this policy. If a party changes its policy, it is very good practice to go through another election before acting on its change of mind.

    This is quite unlike the Lib Dems, who a) explicitly did promise to abolish fees and vote against any rise, and then voted to treble them within months of said promises and b) did not wait for another election to pass before acting on their change of mind.

    Very, very dishonest piece if you ask me. If you have to mislead people about what actually happened to make your point, perhaps you should consider if your point is still valid??

  • Don Lawrence 30th Sep '11 - 6:53pm

    I wonder if it was ever so bad, or if it has become relatively worse over the years. Does anyone know how the percentages have varied for these (or even any) London boroughs over the last 20, 30 or even 40 years? That would really inform debate.

  • Milton Friedman made this point in a lecture a good few years ago. Many benefits like free university education largely benefit the politically active middle classes rather than working classes.

    He effectively outlined the system we now use with student loans supplying full size fees to universities. The main thing he’d disagree with is the large amount being spent on bursaries and grants because he saw no point in a system that gives discounts to people from poor backgrounds (like him) when they’d end up with well paying jobs and could repay their loans (like him).

  • Daniel Henry 30th Sep '11 - 9:43pm

    The purpose in bursaries and grants is to sustain then while they’re still studying. Milton might’ve gotten a good job once he graduated, but he still needed to est while he was studying!

    Tbh, I never had a problem with our fees and loans system, even when Tony Blair introduced it. You pay nothing upfront and then only pay back small contributions as and when you can easily afford it.

    Is there any reason to keep our current policy of scrapping fees other than its popularity?

  • Good grief! I look forward to many LDV articles from 2015 onwards extolling the virtues of eg the by-then-implemented inheritance tax cuts for double millionaires.

  • david thorpe 30th Sep '11 - 11:44pm

    ” hugh

    I dont support the tory plan to vcut inheritance tax, but then neithr does nick clegg, just as nick clegg didnt support the principal of abolishing tuition fees.
    and since Im not a meber of any elected body, I dont have to agree with the party line on anything

  • david thorpe 30th Sep '11 - 11:48pm

    as for whgether the mobility aspect of it is better or worse, the problem with having such a wide quantity and quality of university courses, then charging money for themm, is that it just makes it easier for the less bright but well off to go to uni, because they arent going to see the costs of tuition as a barrier, and by having so many universoty places, their lack academic success is not a problem.
    A systen where there are less numbers of places at university, menaing only the acdemically rigorous can get a place, and make that free. the current system rewards rich and d not brightness, which is not progressive

  • Tom Papworth 1st Oct '11 - 12:50am

    @David: “As a principal free education is deeply noble and fundamentally liberal”

    Is there ever a limit to this? My bachelors degree was free but I had to pay for my masters. Should that have been free, too? Why do we draw the line at that point? I agree with your statement, but it needs a caveat to define how much free education.

    Other than that minor quibble, it’s an excellent article.

    @Will: “the amount of people going into HE roughly increases with family income… The necessary tax rises would most likely be on the richer, such that it would be an effective graduate tax, preloaded or otherwise.”

    That’s a pretty broad assumption. For example, it taxes entrepreneurs who have not benefited from university tuition, as well as self-employed artisans who undertook training that was not subsidised. Frankly, we probably need more entrepreneurs and fewer graduates in this country, but we seem intent to engineering the opposite. Better to target the cost at the beneficiaries.

    @Don: I don’t have the figures, but of course the numbers were far smaller then: it would have been a minority from every borough. Furthermore, as a consequence of that, far fewer jobs were closed to people without degrees. These days, degree awards are like a sort of educational aparthied: half the population is shut out of most of the better paid jobs.

    One final point (on the specific government policy rather than any general principle): the current policy actually encourages universities to charge the full price for degrees that are worth very little financially. Basically, if you never earn much, you get it for free, so the useless (and, to be fair, the “worthy”) degree becomes (or, rather, continues to be) heavily subsidised.

  • I think I was the only student to make it to the early morning “How do we win back students?” fringe at conference. I raised what for me is the most ridiculous aspect of this whole debate: The fee waiver part funded by the university for the poorest students. As I’m sure you’ll all have realised by now, this measure equates to a tax cut for the more successful graduates coming from poor backgrounds. What makes it worse is that it incentivises the university to take on fewer poor students as they will receive a third less fee income from them.

    If we do want more people from Tower Hamlets to feel like the have the chance to go to university perhaps we need to tell the top universities that they will receive more in fees if they welcome an intake that more closely reflects the demographics of UK society. Levies to be repaid back to the government that are greater the lower the average maintenance grant eligibility of their new students. We do have to ask the question: Are school-leavers being selected due to their talent and potential or due to nurturing and coaching providing them with good results and interview techniques?

    This report suggests there is a lot of talent which might not be getting the best education in the best universities purely because they have not been to the best schools:
    http://www.suttontrust.com/news/news/comprehensive-pupils-outperform/

  • Old Codger Chris 1st Oct '11 - 10:32am

    Taking Tom Papworth’s point perhaps universities should be more under the spotlight to demonstrate that courses are financially beneficial, or worthy, or both. That said, these judgements will always be somewhat subjective. I would contend that a theology degree is worse than useless – others may disagree! Also a degree sometimes leads the graduate into a seemingly unrelated career.

    It’s sometimes said that the new fees system will operate somewhat like a graduate tax. So why not make it a tax so that the dreaded D word – Debt – doesn’t deter young people in Tower Hamlets and elsewhere, and doesn’t hang round graduates’ necks for upwards of 30 years.

    And what about the forecast that the system won’t even make financial sense for taxpayers?!

  • coldcomfort 1st Oct '11 - 12:09pm

    What has to somehow be exploded is the myth that going to what was a cutting edge training college/polytechnic & is now a low grade so-called University to study on three days a week a non-academic subject is an ultimate goal to which everyone should have access. The number of graduates of nothing very much manning call centres or being unemployed ought to be enough evidence but clearly it isn’t. The connect between a degree & prosperity in life is just not there. Look at Lord Sugar to name just one of hundreds. I went to University in the1950s. My best friend had failed his 11+ & did not. Now well retired neither of us are rich but both are well off enough. He eventually ran his own building contractors business. One of my grandsons, now in his late teens, was manifest ,even from the age of 10, as a natural born salesman. University is a total waste of time & money for him. The university for all is the most pernicious con trick ever perpetrated on our young people.

  • Old Codger Chris 1st Oct '11 - 12:40pm

    Does anyone doubt that the new tuition fees system will deter some young people who would benefit from HE (and I agree that they don’t all benefit) from enrolling? Logically it probably shouldn’t – but it will.

    Also we forget that a well educated population benefits the entire country, including those who leave education early. Germany, China, India etc all understand this.

    And if the estimate by Vince Cable’s department – that the system will burden taxpayers by up to £191 billion – turns out to be only half true, it will be a fiasco in every respect. See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/8769269/Government-will-take-35-years-to-recoup-tuition-fee-losses.html

  • @ Old Codger Chris

    “Does anyone doubt that the new tuition fees system will deter some young people who would benefit from HE (and I agree that they don’t all benefit) from enrolling?”

    I expect we’ll see student numbers rise yet again in 2012.

  • Could the fees be eliminated or significantly recuced if all past gratuate benificieries of free tuition were included in a graduate tax? I must say that I have experienced zero enthusiasm for this from Lib Dem graduates.

  • Old Codger Chris 1st Oct '11 - 9:42pm

    @scorchio “I expect we’ll see student numbers rise yet again in 2012”.

    I hope you’re right – and I hope it won’t only be because so many school leavers can’t find a job. (Why shouldn’t older people be required to retire – hopefully on a decent pension, ha ha) to make room for the young?

  • Good blog from David Thorpe. Coupled with his princlpled analysis is the base political reality that even if we nursed the idea that a policy of abolishing tuition fees and loading the cost entirely on to the public purse would grace our manifesto for the next election, no-one would believe a word of it and we would resurrect in spades the debacle of our previous ill-judged solemn pledges.

    So let’s develop policy based both on Thorpian principle and on political and electoral reality.

  • david thorpe 1st Oct '11 - 11:10pm

    Thanks all for the comments.
    ” tom papworth the point at which someones eductaional chopices should stop being free in principal is a fascinating debate, and I dont claim to have the anser.
    A tory brought in the principal of free educsaation, Rab Butler. Labour brought in the ptuition fee.
    ” old codger chris.
    Of course studnets numbers will rise this year, the new vfee system doesnt apply until next year.
    I want the number of satudents reduced……but becasue I want academic standards, not fees to rise.

    The idea that a society benefits from an eductaed population is probably irrefutable, but as with ebverything else in economcis, the law of diminishing returnms applies and I thinkwe are at that point.
    Society does not benefit from intelligent poor kids being held back, while not academic rich kids geta free uni eductaion

    ” denis
    thans for the kind words, not sure about the phrase ‘thjorpian princiapl!

  • “The idea that a society benefits from an eductaed population is probably irrefutable, but as with ebverything else in economcis, the law of diminishing returnms applies and I thinkwe are at that point”

    I think society would benefit an awful lot more if resources could be directed towards giving people – 100% of people – education and training that will be of practical benefit throughout their lives, rather than squandered on three-year degree courses immediately after school for half the population, which in most cases will be of no intrinsic educational, vocational or other use to them.

    But of course, degrees for as many as possible of the children of the electorate is a political imperative in itself, and no one in the political establishment is likely to question it.

  • david thorpe 2nd Oct '11 - 10:51am

    ” brain

    if you try to retros[pectiveky tax a graduate they will sue, and could win, either way the legality is in doubt and the costs of the courtcase would be large

  • Chris Riley 2nd Oct '11 - 5:09pm

    @david

    “The idea that a society benefits from an educated population is probably irrefutable, but as with everything else in economcis, the law of diminishing returnms applies and I thinkwe are at that point.”

    Does it apply? Why do you think we’re at that point? It’s a bit too politically convenient.
    There’s also no evidence for what you say.

    “Society does not benefit from intelligent poor kids being held back, while not academic rich kids geta free uni eductaion”

    Is that right? I think you might be on safer ground in saying ‘society benefits less…’. Because you’re arguing that a better educated population is not actually better for society.

    We’ve been striving for a better educated population in the UK at least since the foundation of Oxford University in the 12th century. I’m sure that the Labour Party would be delighted to hear that you consider the high-water mark of an educated population was achieved in the last 13 years and it’s time to dial back a bit.

    The Lib Dems, the Coalition, and the Right in general have failed to make a convincing case (this is a gross understatement. it is, in fact, probably the stupidest argument advanced in modern politics) that, in fact, it’s now time to stop trying to get more people to go to university (as they are everywhere else in the world) for the first time in over 800 years. In fact, I’d really like someone like coldcomfort or the usual right-wingers to give an example of a Government that achieved success by reducing the number of people getting more educated.

    Or, indeed an country who are having a serious debate about whether there are too many people going to university at the moment (and if you say ‘the US’, I know you don’t know what you’re talking about). This isn’t because the argument is soooo radical that it’s too scary for the squares. It’s because the argument is absurd.

    I see what you’re trying to do, David, and I know you mean well, but some of the ideas you are advancing are desperately naive and will just annoy people who are actually aware of the context of HE. The notion of what is required from universities and HE is inextricably linked with the idea of how we achieve social and economic prosperity (this, incidentally, is also why Stefan Collini’s Alternative White Paper doesn’t quite work as it tries to avoid the economic issues seemingly as they’re a bit too vulgar). Without understanding the pace of industrial, economic and technological change, and how that impacts the old model of vocational training that the party is still half-heartedly kicking around, you really can’t appreciate how valuable the wider perspective and flexibility that HE can impart.

    Some of the young people making A level choices now will be working, in 5 years time, in roles that we haven’t got names for using technology that doesn’t yet exist. In 10 years a lot of them will be. Good luck finding a vocational education or training route for that. These are the people you and I are relying on to retool the economy after the old model cocked up a bit. Charging them more for the privilege is, in my view, rather rude.

    If you fail to accept and prepare for that, you will be deliberately failing to equip young people for the realities of a rapidly-changing economy for no better reason than a reluctance to admit that you made a policy mistake. The Coalition have already devastated careers support for young people. Please don’t make it worse by pretending that, in fact, it’s fair that we make it harder for them to get the education they’ll need for the new economy.

  • “Some of the young people making A level choices now will be working, in 5 years time, in roles that we haven’t got names for using technology that doesn’t yet exist. In 10 years a lot of them will be. Good luck finding a vocational education or training route for that.”

    Why on earth do you think a random degree course will be any more beneficial?

    Obviously the rational response to that likelihood would be to provide them with some appropriate training in 5 or 10 years’ time, rather then blow the resources on a three year degree course immediately after they leave school.

  • david thorpe 3rd Oct '11 - 12:52am

    ” chris.
    my evidence that the law of dimishing returns is happening, and you just need to look in the dole queues and in the jobcentres of britian, look at the graduates, who are there in huge numbers.
    Graduate unemployment is at record levels, but general unemployment, while high is not at record levels.
    Meanhile Britain has a problem, it cant etsablish a manufacturing industry for a lack of skilled apprentices, its simply supply and demnad, we need more technicians and less social scientists, and I speak as someone with a sociall science degree.
    I think a betetr and more vairably educcated popualtion ebefits society, but thats nbot what we have in Britain, rich kids doing not very rigorous degrees does not make them better eductaed, it just devalues the qualifications held by the educated.
    Ass for the impact of new technolofgies, my native Ireland is the second largets exporter of computer software in the world, it has free fees and a tiny proportion of its young go to anythingwityh the word univeristy in the title, a great many go onto other types of third level eductaion, and Ireland is leading the wqorld in IT. Dublin has the European HQs of Google, fCAEBOOK, Hewlett Packard and Dell, high end jobs. The problems in the economy are not from a lack of eductaed people knowing how to work in IT, and yet the proportion who ever see the indside of a university, as opposed to an Institue of Technology for example, is tiny.
    The coalition have introduced many thousands more apprenticeships, and those will be vital. If yo. I dont think the people doing A levels now are the people who will rebuold the economy, not if they go to University at the rate they have been, they wont have the skills for the jobs. Instead we will have a continuation of what the degrees for all philodsophy introduced, foreign graduates creatingt he welath, unemployed britons falling into the gaps
    As for comparisons with Indiua China etc, they are not at diminishing rteurns levelk yet, in both thsoe countries huge a huge proportion of the popualtion, even the ytoung popualtion dont get secondary school let alone University, they [prtoduce, numerically a lot of graduates but proportionally a lot.
    FDor those commenting on a graduate tax, I have no rpoblem with that, but it must be accompanied by measure to ensure that the inequaLITIES OF EDUCTAION IN THE state school system are addressed

  • Actually I think what the whole thing boils down to is that children need much better careers advice. There are a great many whose personalities and aptitudes are not well suited to university education who should be encouraged to find their fortunes elsewhere. People will still apply for media studies in droves if nobody tells them they will be wasting three years of their life to get near zero job prospects at the end of it. We need well trained career advice specialists pushing pupils towards courses they will enjoy and will use for the rest of their lives, or vocational training that will give them the same leg up.

  • david thorpe 3rd Oct '11 - 3:17pm

    @ chrisW

    Clegg and Cable didnt want to sign the pledge and voted aginst doing soat confernec..therta they broke theior NUS pledge is irerwefutable and I dont agree with them doing it…I specifically say in my article that I dont agree with the current tuition fee policy so I have no idea why you are arguing with me about the merits of soemhting whcih O say has no merit!……..but they were outvioted by the membership at conferebnce and thereafter had to accept the will of the party as they are demmocrats….just as the coalition agreement which the members acceopted said the elected reps should vote to implement the report.
    Im not an MP, and wouldnt have wanted to sign the pledge…but if I had signed it, I would have honoured it.
    Before the elction I opposed the tuition fees policy, voting at conference laongside clegg and cable and others(cable described at a public conference the proposal as potty)
    also
    clegg and cable neevr said VAT would not rise, they said they would prefer bot to raise it…but didnt rule it out..which is exactly what they wanted to do on tuition fees but the members outvoted them and the members make policy in a democratoc party…we have np block votes…
    also the labour manifesto in 1997 said no to fees..a graduate tax isnt fees and if they had implemented that then they wouldnt have been breaking their manifesto pledge

  • david thorpe 3rd Oct '11 - 3:19pm

    @ chrisW

    Clegg and Cable didnt want to sign the pledge and voted aginst doing soat confernec..therta they broke theior NUS pledge is irerwefutable and I dont agree with them doing it…I specifically say in my article that I dont agree with the current tuition fee policy so I have no idea why you are arguing with me about the merits of soemhting whcih O say has no merit!……..but they were outvioted by the membership at conferebnce and thereafter had to accept the will of the party as they are demmocrats….just as the coalition agreement which the members acceopted said the elected reps should vote to implement the report.
    Im not an MP, and wouldnt have wanted to sign the pledge…but if I had signed it, I would have honoured it.
    Before the elction I opposed the tuition fees policy, voting at conference laongside clegg and cable and others(cable described at a public conference the proposal as potty)
    also
    clegg and cable neevr said VAT would not rise, they said they would prefer bot to raise it…but didnt rule it out..which is exactly what they wanted to do on tuition fees but the members outvoted them and the members make policy in a democratoc party…we have np block votes…
    also the labour manifesto in 1997 said no to fees..a graduate tax isnt fees and if they had implemented that then they wouldnt have been breaking their manifesto pledge .
    but now milliband wants to raise them anyway.

    @ ewan
    career advice is important but onlyr elavnt to shildren who have choices and the poorest children dont have those..only 27% percent of children on free school meals get 5 good gcses
    the rest are alreday behind and no amoujtn of careers about the demerits of university is any good to them

    the pupil premium should address that…

  • John D Salt 3rd Oct '11 - 4:07pm

    This argument seems to me to confound two separate concerns, the system of state education and the system of taxation.

    Provision of free education, indeed provision of free anything, is neither progressive, regressive nor proportional, as those terms are understood in terms of taxation.

    If it is perceived that the poor are subsidising the rich because each are equally entitled to free services, then the progressiveness, regressiveness or proportionality of the whole megillah can be adjusted to taste by fiddling with the tax system. That is the logical thing to do, rather than withdraw the free service.

    And if the argument that it is regressive can be applied to free provision of tertiary education, presumably it can also be applied to primary or secondary education.

  • “Clegg and Cable didnt want to sign the pledge and voted aginst doing soat confernec”

    Are you sure you don’t mean they voted against the party policy of abolishing fees?

    If they really didn’t want to sign the pledge to vote against raising fees, I can’t see what was forcing them to – apart from the fear of losing votes, of course.

  • Old Codger Chris 6th Oct '11 - 2:00pm

    Chris Riley’s point about rapid technological change was made in a video I saw explaining why Diplomas were such a great idea – before the coalition abolished them.

    As others have pointed out, careers advice and general guidance is also being scrapped at a time when youth unemployment is a major financial and social problem.

    Apprenticeships have their place but are sometimes simply a source of cheap labour. With none of the concessionary fares available to school pupils, apprentices can find it costly to get to work. As for internships…….

    The idea that trebelling HE fees is fair to the poor is a red herring. The neglect of our school leavers is a disgrace and a time-bomb.

  • “If that had happened, and if the Lib Dem government had then found a way to abolish tuition fees, would that actually be progressive? Would it be fair for the parents of Tower Hamlets, whose children have only a remote chance of making it to university, to have to pay the extra taxes… or experience the extra cuts necessary so that the children of Hammersmith and Fulham have free tuition?”

    There seem to be some logical problems with this, including:

    – it assumes that the folk of Tower Hamlets – even those who don’t get a degree – have zero benefit from others getting degrees, e.g. the people of TH have no need for degree-educated Drs, dentists, surgeons, teachers, solicitors, and don’t use engineer-designed bridges, never step inside anything designed by an architect, etc, etc;

    – it seems to assume society is static: few TH-ers will ever get to uni, so why should they pay for others? What if, one day, more folk from TH get to uni?;

    – it implies that fees won’t make things worse in TH. If you’re middle class, and generations of your family have been to uni, that may seem reasonable; speaking as someone from a working class background and the 1st of my family to go to uni, I’d say that such debts can be terrifying and are unlikely to encourage more take-up in TH..

    – it assumes that free uni education = cuts in TH; in reality, other things could be cut that didn’t disadvantage the good folk to TH. And as I think someone else pointed out, successful graduates – whatever their starting backgorund – will make a significant contrbution through taxes anyway.

    I could go on but luckily the website is snarling up so typing is getting v tedious!

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJohn Peters 24th Jul - 5:57am
    The court threw out the summons as it had no merit. They didn't have to point out the bus claim was in actual fact correct...
  • User AvatarDavid-1 24th Jul - 1:37am
    Mr Evershed: Belief in democracy does not mean capitulating. Many of the greatest advances in history came on the heels of loss after loss. If...
  • User AvatarMichael BG 24th Jul - 1:23am
    John Peters, The link you provided to the BBC report states, “Reasons for the High Court's ruling will be given at a later date”. It...
  • User AvatarDavid Evershed 24th Jul - 1:04am
    Speaking on BBC News on Tuesday afternoon Jo Swinson was asked if she would support Brexit if Leave won in a second referendum. She said...
  • User AvatarAlex 23rd Jul - 11:49pm
    Small point, but shouldn't the % be calculated against the total electorate of the country and not its total population?
  • User Avatarfrankie 23rd Jul - 11:38pm
    We are practicing care in the community Tom. If we didn't give them a bit of attention, they'd only bore the ears of some poor...
Sun 28th Jul 2019
Thu 1st Aug 2019
Sun 4th Aug 2019
Sun 18th Aug 2019