Student Tuition Fees: Failing The Poor?
Plans to triple tuition fees have cleared Parliament after the House of Lords voted against a Labour move to overturn the measure by 283 to 215. The vote comes six days after MPs backed the measure amid violent protests by students outside Parliament.
Labour tabled a "fatal amendment" to the Higher Education Bill 2004 which it hoped would kill off the hike but was defeated by 68 votes. The party's spokesman Lord Triesman accused the Government of attempting to drive through the "privatisation" of universities. He said: "This afternoon's decision will switch the concept of universities from being a public good, as they have always been through modern history, to essentially a private sector, market-driven by personal private investment." He added: "Stripped back to the realities, this is a 200% starting fee hike and, for most, it will be a 300% increase.
"It will result in all probability across the board in about a 300% increase in student debt."
Government spokesman Lord Henley said the Government had produced a "progressive package", telling peers: "The regulations and resolution we are proposing today enable those universities and colleges that can attract students to get the funding that they need to offer high-quality teaching.
"Universities will decide what charges they make for which of their courses. "They will need to estimate the value students place on what they are offering and adjust their charges accordingly. "We believe that having to consider what potential students want and need will benefit universities as well as students."
Baroness Sharp of Guildford, Liberal Democrat higher education spokeswoman in the Lords and an academic, said the system proposed was "more progressive than the current scheme" because the income threshold after which graduates started paying back their loans had been raised from £15,000 to £21,000.
But, she said: "A sharp hike in fees in this way may make students very uncertain as to whether they want to go to university."
She told peers: "I do find myself in a dilemma, I don't hide that. I think there are elements of this package that are very fair and very right and very proper.
"But I end up by feeling that there are other elements in it which I don't understand and I think are unfair."
Above is the short version of the steps that are being introduced by the Government and the argument against those steps, soon to become legislation.
Students and anarchists are taking to the streets in protests as we speak, but I find it hard to agree with their cause even though I do have some sympathy. Of course for almost a generation university fees were much lower and some paid nothing at all, the later still being available as we speak today however with a far greater scrutiny than ever before.
The harsh reality of the situation means we can no longer be piling more and more debt on to the national credit card without facing far more reaching cuts in the future, so it is that old adage "prudence” that is being brought to bare upon our society by the newly elected coalition, and I for one support it.
The Controversial Vote: Progressive & Fair?
Why should our tax pounds be directed into a free or very heavily subsidised university program for everyone, when that very same person could easily be earning substantial income in the future from the knowledge gained whist at university? Is it not right and proper for those who benefit the most to repay the costs or a substantial part of those costs for this education? I think it is equally fair that we have a progressive system that provides people who do not gain high paid jobs or choose to have a family with a system that will not burden them until such time (if ever) they earn over the starting point of £21,000.
Our Country's finances are in a mess and it is time everyone sat up and realised just how deep the black hole is, we will only turn things around if tough decisions like this one are taken and if as a Country we all get behind the austerity measures.
It does not matter what side of the fence you sit on, the reality is we just don't have the cash and further borrowing will continually worsen our situation. Those economists who advocate more borrowing and that we should spend greater amounts within the public sector until such time as our economy sees sustainable growth are frankly barmy, because unless we start to see double percentage points of growth for a sustained number of years we will never remove ourselves from the cycle of debt we are currently facing.
The simple truth of the matter is we need to cut our cloth accordingly and that means pain for us all!
The difficulty for the Government is everyone believes their particular sector should be immune to any such cuts or protected so that the effects are minimised, unfortunately this just means more pain for everyone else. Let us share the burden and work together to create a better future for us all and the next generation.
I personally never went to university but still managed to forge a decent living for myself and my family and have now completed 24 years of working for myself in the same business that I started in 1986.
I contribute taxes both personally and from my business profits that I don't mind funding the national program. I do resent the fact we have to spend more than our income will allow and worry about our children's futures if we don't get to grips with our deficit. The fact that this blog is about education is purely topical as it seems to be engulfing us all everyday on the news, but my views stretch far and wide and I think are fairly diverse whilst being well balanced.
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