Tuition Fees – Why The Coalition Government Has Got It Badly Wrong

Posted: November 3, 2010 in Politics
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On Wednesday 3rd November the Coalition’s plans for university tuition fees were announced. From 2012 universities will be forced to rely on fees for course funding as opposed to state support, with a two-tier cap system being brought in. The cap will be set at £6000, with a second cap of £9000 for those universities that can show that they are supporting the poorer students in gaining a place at their university.

This can only end in disaster, and a total collapse of the university system as we know it in this country. I’m known as being an advocate of reducing the number of degree courses offered by universities, especially the degrees that are probably better suited to being sponsored by businesses because of being more vocational. You know the kind, business degrees, hospitality degrees, because these courses don’t teach the absolute basics those students will need to be successful in their chosen vocation. It would be much better for these degrees to be work-based rather than university-based.

But I digress. Because the Government is planning on changing the way universities are funded, things will be much tighter in the monetary sense for the universities. Look at it this way: For the first 5 years, universities will be paying out to hundreds of thousands of students…millions of pounds will be leaving the loan company to pay for these fees. But how long will it be before the loans start being repaid? There is no guarantee that loans will ever be repaid at all, especially with the jobs market being as lean as it is and with no prospect of that market improving in the medium-term future. So who makes up the shortfall in fee repayments? How does the loan company keep going when it’s got no money left? The numbers just don’t add up in my mind.

As I see it, it’ll take a minimum of 10 years before there is a chance of a good return on the loans paid out over the next 4 or 5 years. Then there’s the grants and bursaries that will be paid out to the poorer students. Money will be leaving the system for years before we see it coming back in. It’s ridiculous, this Government is consistently and continually targeting the wrong end of the financial spectrum when it comes to their budget cut plans.

All this happens, and still the major companies and conglomerates find ways of evading corporate tax, and if the Government went after the tax evaders the money they’d recoup would more than cover the amounts being cut in several different departments. But then, we must remember that this is the Tory party in charge, the same Tory party that hates poor people to the extent of effectively pricing them out of the houses they already live in.

The Liberal Democrats can redeem themselves after getting in bed with the enemy by voting this proposal down when it comes to the vote. All Lib Dem MPs signed a personal pledge during the election to oppose any raise in tuition fees, and this is the next chance for them to show that they’re not the sops that they have been since joining the coalition. There won’t be many more chances. Nick Clegg has led the party to their lowest approval rating in years, with just 11% saying they’d still vote Lib Dem.

I’ve got loads more to say on many different issues regarding the budget cuts, but I’ll save those for another day. For now, I hope that the planned student march on 10th November as well as the demonstrations already directed at Chris Huhne and Vince Cable will have the desired effect and show the Lib Dems that people will not stand for that party being David Cameron’s drones.


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