The Graduate Tax

Baroness Murphy

I see the coalition is beginning to favour the graduate tax solution to funding universities. I have grave doubts about it even though the principle of a graduate contribution or graduate tax is a welcome development on the surface. It has the support of students and student leaders and on the face of it is a more progressive tax than the fee model.

The principle behind a graduate tax is that students should be able to decide what to study and where without worrying about the different costs involved and after graduation they should be able to work at their chosen field without worrying about having to pay back debts quickly. Those who are subsequently able to contribute more towards their education will do so while those that are unable will not.

On the face of it this is attractive, but it has a serious drawback for universities. Many people feel uneasy about the obvious alternative, which is to move to a market in fees where certain universities cost considerably more than others. Ignoring the fact that certain universities do indeed cost more than others to run and there is considerable difference between the quality of one course and another. But for me it is an inequitable centralist solution with the following disadvantages.

a)  It breaks the link between the individual and the institution they attend. The centralist solution provides no guarantee that the money raised centrally would go to the institutions most valued by students. It perpetuates higher education institutions’ dependence on the state instead of freeing them from it. What is more, for many years until the graduate tax kicked in, universities would be left with debt financing and uncertainty.  The positive benefit of top-up fees, that is an increasingly assertive attitude from students demanding better quality teaching, would be lost.

b)  The graduate tax proposal would make it harder to create the market in competition and choice that needs to emerge in higher education. More universities need to reposition themselves on vocational and professional teaching. They will only do this if the fees they can charge concentrate their minds on their real strengths and potential.

We moved part way to a USA type university system by deciding that a very high proportion of young people should go to university, but we failed to understand that a US student can apply to the university of his choice knowing that his place will be allocated blind with regard to his personal family wealth. Fees will be assessed on his/his parents’ wealth (as grants used to be here) and that if he is unable to pay a bursary system will meet the full cost. Universities are not all the same and we need to encourage students to discriminate more between them just as employers in reality do now. A graduate tax won’t solve this problem.

34 comments for “The Graduate Tax

  1. 11/08/2010 at 10:36 pm

    I completely disagree I’m afraid, Baroness Murphy. I see no need to create a “market” in higher education. One argument used for high fees/graduate tax is that student will earn more over their lifetime, and that those studying at a better university will earn more. If this is true, a graduate tax will mean they pay more towards their education. However, the strength of a graduate tax here is that anyone choosing to forego a lifetime of high earning in order to take a low-paid job in the voluntary sector (you know, Big Society and all that) would no longer be penalised and left with a large debt. Equally, anyone who falls upon hard times, perhaps suffering from chronic illness, would also not be left with a debt. (Or else, will graduates be able to claim a higher rate of incapacity benefit in order to repay their fees?)

    There is already a market anyway, it just isn’t based on money. The institutions with the best teaching etc. attract the most applicants, increasing the academic threshold required to attend the university, and further enhancing its reputation. Surely the test of whether someone can attend a top university should be whether they are a top achiever, not that they can afford to pay more? The only thing that high fees at better universities can change from the status quo is that some people will not go there because they can’t afford it.

    I see no reason why the money from each student couldn’t go to the institution they attended, even with a graduate tax. Having different levels of fees for each institution wouldn’t guarantee the money all went there either. There’s also nothing to say there couldn’t be different levels of graduate tax for different universities.

    Yes, it would be a few years for the new funding to reach universities, but it would be the same if they simply increase the cap on the current type of fees. Few people are suggesting they should go back to up-front fees, which would cause severe problems.

    I totally disagree that the fees payable should in any way be means tested on the student’s family’s wealth. We are told again and again that students should pay fees because they will earn more over their lifetimes, so what does it have to do with how much their parents earn? This is hugely unfair, and hits the lower-middle classes worse as they don’t have much spare money, but aren’t eligible for all the support. It is also yet another disincentive for people to save (and look what a mess the country is because everyone borrowed instead of saved). The parents who lived frugally and saved for their whole lives are hit with huge fees for their children, whereas those who spent all their money on booze, fags and foreign holidays then receive generous handouts to send their spoilt brats to the top university.

    A university student is an adult, and their fee arrangements should have nothing to do with their parents’ finances.

    I find your arguments rather contradictory. A system that encourages people to look for the best university, but prices many people out of such institutions. A system that’s “fair”, yet hits people from lower-income families and those choosing to serve the community after graduating hard.

    • Croft
      12/08/2010 at 1:41 pm

      “There is already a market anyway, it just isn’t based on money. The institutions with the best teaching etc. attract the most applicants, increasing the academic threshold required to attend the university, and further enhancing its reputation.”

      But it’s a market of quasi-mediocrity. The best institutions running the more expensive courses and best staff ratios don’t/can’t get fees appropriate to their costs. The cheap degrees to run with poor staff ratios are proportionally ‘rewarded’.

      “We are told again and again that students should pay fees because they will earn more over their lifetimes”

      I thought getting taxed at 40%-50% + NI was already the way those who earn more in their lifetimes pay more 😉

      LadyMurphy: But why as a student won’t I just do the sensible thing: go abroad as soon as I graduate to avoid the tax. Or say take 2 of a 4yr course in the UK and the rest abroad to graduate there avoiding fees. Those who graduate from the best unis and are the most mobile will find this easy.

      Seems a good disincentive to work really. Why slog your guts out doing 10hr days as many graduates trying to rise fast do if you get hit by a new tax. Much better to take a job in the public sector with half the hours and generally better security.

      Indeed I rather think people will resent paying for X to study a course with no job prospects or earning potential in the full knowledge other graduates will have to pay for X’s education.

      I can easily see perverse consequences. If you pay proportionate to earning – predicated that those earnings are based on the degree benefit – it soon descends into farce. I have a friend whose now a professional sportsman. I wonder exactly what part of his sporting prowess and therefore earnings is due to his ancient greek degree!

      • 12/08/2010 at 3:24 pm

        But Croft, don’t you think it’s even more perverse to base the amount that a student must pay not on his or her own future earnings, but on parental earnings? The parents may have studied ancient Greek or been top sportsmen, but that doesn’t mean their children are going to follow in their footsteps.

        • Croft
          12/08/2010 at 4:20 pm

          “don’t you think it’s even more perverse to base the amount that a student must pay not on his or her own future earnings but on parental earnings?”

          It is and I agree but I rather see these as parallel issues. Fwiw I think all students should pay the real cost of their degrees (I’m prepared to accept there may be exceptional reasons for the state to subsidise subjects to encourage necessary skills). The fairness issue is that people should pay it back only when they can reasonably afford to do so – as at present there is a minimum threshold.

          But making students pay the true cost doesn’t seem to me to make an argument for a graduate tax as opposed to a debt. The idea that students will feel more worried about a debt of £30K but relaxed about a lifetime tax of £30K (or more) seems to me to insult the intelligence of students. The cost is the cost – simply renaming a chicken a gorilla doesn’t make it swing from the trees and stop laying eggs!

  2. lordblagger
    11/08/2010 at 11:37 pm

    The principle behind a graduate tax is that students should be able to decide what to study and where without worrying about the different costs involved and after graduation they should be able to work at their chosen field without worrying about having to pay back debts quickly

    —————–

    It does the opposite. It breaks completely the link between study and its costs.

    You don’t have a clue as to the costs because you don’t know what you are going to earn.

    That’s why its bonkers.

    Lets be clear what the real problem is. You spent the money and more and blown it.

    It’s gone on expenses for Lords, for MPs, and on other spending with no oversight (the job of the lords, alledgedly)

    Now, in a desparate attempt to keep the Ponzi scheme going the proposition is another tax.

  3. lordblagger
    11/08/2010 at 11:43 pm

    Wasn’t it you who justified your expenses on the grounds that you had paid tax your working life? One lord has used that argument.

    Here its the opposite, pay taxes and pay a graduate tax on top.

    More taxes solve every problem. Yee ha

    Lets have a tax on peers. That will solve some problems. Lets double the tax rate on any politician. After all, new taxes solve everything like New Persil washes whiter than old Persil.

  4. 12/08/2010 at 1:05 am

    As is known, one can become the best doctor, lawyer or other professional in the world, without any education whatsoever, provided one has the right training and the right job-placements.

    The fact of the education-system is that that it is now dominantly owned by the Private-Sector, i.e. by the Money-Bags that control All Sectors and that decide what skills all prospective employees must come into a Job with.

    It is the Private-Individual-Capitalist-Sector that holds the monopoly over the Employment Market and that reaps the Lion’s share of the Profits therefrom, as well as has ownership of Infrastructural wealth increases i.e. in Land, Buildings, Oil-fields, Shipping-fleets, and World-Wide Resources of all kinds from Strategic-Commodities and Non-Renewables to variously durable and perishable Renewables.

    Therefore it is that Employer-Sector that should be providing all of the major-funding. for all trainihg, and that includes all job-related “education” costs, especially in Universities.
    ============
    (JSDM0105Th12Aug10)

  5. Julian Gall
    12/08/2010 at 7:34 am

    There is another problem with a graduate tax that no one seems to be discussing. Imagine two neighbours in twenty years time. Both have young children and both earn a similar reasonable income. However, one pays a higher rate of tax, because he/she went to uni fifteen years before.

    The fact that they earn about the same will make it very difficult to justify to the graduate that he/she should pay more tax, when uni seems so long ago and the tax paid since then has already covered the cost. There will be many voters arguing for “fair taxes” and looking for a party to support their demand.

  6. Baroness Deech
    Baroness Deech
    12/08/2010 at 9:54 am

    I completely agree with this. To make the system work, the universities need to have the endowment in the first place to be able to offer needs blind bursaries. This could be achieved by transforming over the years the annual government grant to all universities of some £7bn into a rolling endowment fund for universities. Or it could be achieved by charging realistic fees of £15K pa to those who can afford it (for example all pupils who went to private schools before university and whose parents were already paying something of this order). From that fee income there could be created bursaries for the poorer students.

  7. Carl.H
    12/08/2010 at 10:37 am

    Graduate taxation is probably symbolic of our society at present. Buy now, pay later…Degree`s on the never never. It won`t work, if tried it would just cost more and more.

    We must have a system where those that can afford to pay do so and a system of financial help for those who cannot.

    When thought about, if University Students go onto get the better jobs with the better salaries then they will pay a form of graduate tax anyway because of the higher taxation. Put yet another tax on top of that and we may find all our brains suddenly going to work overseas for the tax breaks.

    • 12/08/2010 at 3:21 pm

      “We must have a system where those that can afford to pay do so and a system of financial help for those who cannot.”

      But who, at the age of 18, can afford to pay £45k to go to university? Or do you mean “those whose parents can afford to pay”? Basing the level of fees (or support to offset the fees) on parents’ wealth is grossly unfair for reasons I’ve already given. My main reason for favouring a system whereby the level of repayment is based on a student’s income after they graduate is because it makes the amount they repay dependent on their own income and success rather than their parents’.

      • Lord Blagger
        12/08/2010 at 4:05 pm

        I’m going to start a new service. It organises all your travel arrangements between first and second homes for Lords, and submits expenses.

        Now you don’t need to know the cost do you? I’ll just take a percentage of your income for it, from now until forever.

        Is that a good deal? Can you spot any flaws in signing up for a deal where you don’t know the cost up front? Can you spot any flaws where the cost is unlimited?

      • Lord Blagger
        12/08/2010 at 7:09 pm

        What’s wrong with the current system? ie. You borrow to pay for the cost of your university education. Everyone has to pay back via the tax system. ie. The student pays when they earn, not the parent.

        ie. Everyone knows the cost. Everyone pays their own cost and doesn’t get a subsidy. (Assuming full cost is charged). The bill is spread over years in which people earn. The bill is known up front. (It’s RPI linked)

        Strikes me that those who benefit pay is a good feature. Having poor people subsidise other people to go to university is wrong, so make sure there is no subsidy.

        However, that doesn’t deal with people making bad choices about university. ie. Meeja studies. Not working hard and getting a low grade, or even working hard and getting a low grade because of some inherent lack of ability. Not getting a job after university. However, should these people be subsidised by others, ie poor tax payers? I personally think not. As an adult you should be responsible for your own decisions, financial ones included.

        • 16/08/2010 at 5:39 pm

          And since there is no life-efficiency education, and no governance-thinking enablement appropriately to every level of The People, nor any Governance defender and redresser for the disadvantaged underclasses who are ripped off at every level of Need, How, and Affordable-Cost by both the Nation-State and the “Private” economic Sector, how is every one of the “you”-population in your argument, Lord-Blagger, going to make themselves “responsible” ?

          Few of us, and certainly not these underclasses, are “God” and thereby able to create our own banks, castles, private-armies and personal-staffs, and our own Teaching and Guru consultants to help us create ourselves “responsible” ?

          (PS The above only sketchily encircles one of the fallacy-areas in your otherwise often plausible writings).

          =========
          (JSDM1739M16Aug2010).

          • 17/08/2010 at 10:49 am

            So why can’t people create their own banks? It used to be possible. It isn’t any more, unless you can write 5,000 plus pages of documentation for the government (I’ve been involved in setting one up).

            However, consider friendly societies. As a rabid libertarian, I’m all in favour of non compulsorary unions (collective organisations). A FS is just another example. It should be made simple to set them up.

            As for making people responsible, surprisingly, I’m in favour of a bit of compulsion, in order to proctect other from the irresponsibility.

            So, lets take pensions. The major disaster allowed by the Lords. 5,000 plus trillion of debts off the books and not one bit of scrutiny by the Lords.

            1. Stop accruing any more state pension. (If you are in a hole stop digging)

            2. NI goes into a personal account invested in the stock market. For an median salary worker, their NI would have provided then with a retirement income of 20,000 pounds post crash, compared to 5,000 from the government. No compound interest, and that’s post crash. Which is more risky -20K with assets or 5K with no assets? Also the investment drives growth in the economy

            3. At retirement you can draw down on your fund.

            4. If you die before retirement, the fund goes to the funds of your heirs.

            5. Half of your contributions go to your spouse, and the fund isn’t split on divorce. Each has half already.

            6. If your fund runs out before you die, then we all chip in. The guarantee. Note, this is optimising the help. Only as a last resort do we help.

            Now this doesn’t affect the responsible who are saving directly. It helps the irresponsible, because when working they have to save.

            If unemployed, no contributions are made for you. ie. You might work 30, not for 10. Ideally that 30 years makes at least 5K of income (40 years would make 20K), so there is no bail out needed.

            The responsible are protected by and large from bailing out the irresponsible.

            One example of how to protect the citizen and stop people being ripped off by 15K a year in their retirement

      • Carl.H
        12/08/2010 at 11:34 pm

        Jonathon, would you suggest that Policeman, Serviceman, Fireman, Doctors, Nurses, Etc., all pay an extra tax to pay for their training ?

        “Basing the level of fees (or support to offset the fees) on parents’ wealth is grossly unfair ”

        I do not think it is, there are many poorer people who even with the help that can be /is provided cannot afford University for their children. The help as any student will tell you tell you does not cover it all.

        The rich that can afford it and I don`t mean scrape it together, should pay for it or alternately say no…After all you`re stating the prospective students are adults, if they are adults go to the bank and get a loan….Oh yeah Student Loans already exist.

        Your argument seems to be the threshold of who gets help. You state quite obviously that lower classes who in your opinion spend all their money on fags, booze and foreign holidays(sounds more like student life) get more help than middle classes. Your argument to my mind is objectionable and one of thresholds.

        Those that spend their income in what you percieve as a reprehensible way still have that income taken into account, I don`t see your problem.

        What you seem to be stating is that the middle classes are not receiving enough help and you begrudge the help those from lower classes get.

        We all pay for the training and education of all those careers I put at the beginning of this post through taxation. We all pay for the help given to students whose parents are on lower income to an extent (even they rely on loans). However there should come a point where we say YOU can afford to pay for own child and THAT is what needs debate.

        • 13/08/2010 at 10:56 am

          Carl H, of course I don’t think Policeman, Serviceman, Fireman, etc. should pay anything for their training. We all pay for that through our tax, and quite rightly so. However, proponents of a huge increase in fees are asking doctors to pay for their training. To the list of whose training is funded by the taxpayer, we should add scientists, linguists, and other people who will contribute usefully to the nation. Then people who choose to study “degrees” such as Golf Services Management can pay the full cost of their courses… or otherwise learn their skills while working as people always did in the past.

          I did NOT say that it’s lower classes who spend their money on fags, booze and foreign holidays. I was comparing the lot of two families of the same social class, who earn the same amount, but where one is careful with money and the other wastes it. Because the means testing takes savings and interest income into account, the family that was careful to save ends up paying more, while those who wasted money are subsidised by the tax payer.

          As the idea of paying the full cost of the degree is that the student benefits from it so should pay for it, I still don’t see why some people should receive support and others not, as long as they don’t have to pay up-front. Those from a poor background will benefit from the education just as much. But of course, the real answer is that this it about social engineering, and not about fairness at all.

  8. 12/08/2010 at 6:35 pm

    It’s all gone wrong.

    The previous gvt’s decision to push 50% of students into universities was doomed simply because it was a fag-end policy without regard to the other fag-end policies, and reality.

    The consequences for many of the poorest students, those so necessary to fulfill Labour’s dreams, has been to push them into huge debt and to further their impoverishment.

    The ‘kippers’ and ‘boomerang kids’ are partly due to those who have discovered too late that a graduate’s road is not paved with gold. Simply, there is a lack of jobs actually requiring a degree: Dearing got it wrong.

    A top-up fees system that is sold based on all graduates go on to well-paid jobs is bonkers. Add other factors such as capping and first year drop-outs (that do not help the over-subscribing problem), and nobody is happy.

    If a student has been persuaded that a degree is essential to him/herself the Open University currently offer courses for a total of £5K over three years. Why didn’t a Labour gvt build upon their own successful institution and provide any necessary extra courses to the poorest students? And why are teachers not giving better advice on the alternatives?

    As graduates realise they have little opportunity to a) utilise their degree, b) get a job that can i) feed and house them, ii) pay back the student loan, iii) start saving towards a deposit on a home, or c) get any job, they might realise that student loan in whatever form are A Bad Thing.

    As the brightest then wave a cheery bye-bye to Blighty, the gvt might see that a brain-drain is A Very Bad Thing, especially for their immigration stats.

    Looking at who benefits most from graduates with worthwhile degrees, I have to say that the graduate is the one who fares least well. Stop punishing people for having brains and, for those who have brains, stop using them to find ways of paying for Labour’s dreams.

    • 13/08/2010 at 4:00 pm

      ladytizzy: I’m quite in agreement with you. Too many people are going to university, it was a crazy policy, but then that was the Labour government who wanted everyone to get above-average grades at school…

      It’s a huge con to tell young people that going to university will mean they will find a better job. Of course graduate salaries are better on average. That doesn’t mean a particular person going to university will definitely receive a better salary than if they hadn’t.

      Let’s stop this nonsense, and go back to having many people starting work after A-levels. There should be no shame in doing so. I have far more respect for someone going into their chosen trade rather than wasting years of their life then ending up in the same job anyway.

      As long as we make sure the only criterion is that the most capable people go to university. Social class or background should not come into it, and most important of all, neither should (in)ability to pay tuition fees.

  9. Senex
    12/08/2010 at 9:21 pm

    Hang on a minute! Baronesses Deech and Murphy have vocational degrees because neither of them could practice their ‘trade’ without them, it would be illegal.

    An employer could have sponsored either one of them and set a stipulation in their contracts that after obtaining their degrees they stayed with their employer for a set number of years to allow the employer to recover some of the cost. This is demand driven university education funded by an employer and relevant to the needs of the job and the economy.

    Now the reality, how many graduates are doing a job they were trained for? You must remember that the state has subsidised the graduate with a view to improved economic prosperity. The truth is that nearly all graduate jobs are not related to the needs of the job at all and it has become a culture that serves only the individual. It is a gilding of the proverbial lily.

    What if the needs of the job were means tested by the state. If the graduate was a bad fit to the job the employer would pick up the cost of the graduates education just as they would have done for an employee undergoing a vocational degree. The burden would fall squarely upon the employer’s shoulders just as it once did.

    The Commons would strongly oppose this out of self interest; they would have nothing to bribe the electorate with especially the more prosperous middle earners who love to be subsidised by the state.

    From an economic point of view employers would push the needs of education down to the minimum required to do the job and in very many cases no adult education would be needed at all if the employee had achieved good grades at school. Here is where the real investment is to be made.

    Then there is the happiness of the graduate to be considered:

    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2889773.htm

    Graduates work very hard to obtain their degrees and it is no mean feat, they need not pay anything if the employer makes an investment in them. There is a caste system now at work in the country where HR departments advertise jobs asking for a degree without saying ‘or relevant experience’. The specific degree is not needed for the job as any degree will do.

    The degree has become a key that opens the door to employment to the detriment of the needs of the job and the state. It discriminates against bright youngsters without a degree and perpetuates the attainment of degrees in families that have them. Many having got their parents degree go on to do something entirely different so what was the point of it all? And can the state really afford this?

    Nobody should be denied the opportunity to obtain a degree but if it has no benefit to the employer or the economy then it becomes a question of who pays for the gilding: the state, the employer or the individual. I say the employer should pay.

  10. 13/08/2010 at 10:59 am

    Carl.H has actually given me an idea. The tax on alcohol in student bars should be increased hugely, and the money ploughed back into universities. That would soon fill the funding gap! They should also introduce massive fines for students who disturb people at night with drunken antics (whether in public or in the Halls). Then those people who actually go to university to study needn’t pay extra fees, while those who just go to muck about – often making life a misery for those who do want to study – can pay for the privilege.

    • Carl.H
      13/08/2010 at 4:10 pm

      Now that I have no argument with.

      • Lord Blagger
        13/08/2010 at 8:56 pm

        Or a tax on the Lords drinking. That abolishes the subsisdy

        • Carl.H
          16/08/2010 at 1:34 pm

          As a tea-totaller and someone who realises that alcohol cost`s the NHS more than smoking and is possibly as carcinogenic, I have no argument with this either.

  11. Lord Blagger
    13/08/2010 at 1:13 pm


    The Commons would strongly oppose this out of self interest; they would have nothing to bribe the electorate with especially the more prosperous middle earners who love to be subsidised by the state.

    Far from it. They just want something back for all the money that has been extorted from them in taxation.

    There is a current trend in lots of discussion that ‘other people’ should just pay taxes and get nothing back.

    Don’t forget too that we’ve had one lord justify their expenses as a payback for all the taxes that they have paid.

    Quite how the rest of us can get something back hasn’t occurred to politicians. ie. They are just in it for what they can get.

    The employer shouldn’t pay. They should pay the individual a salary. Out of the that money the individual takes the risk and the judgement about what works, and they pay back the cost of their course.

    I don’t see why poor people should subsidise students to learn. I don’t see why I should subsidise anyone else either. Once you are 18 you are old enough to deal with the consequences of your own actions.

    Now if the employer values that degree to the extent that employing that person makes more money, they will pay the wages. However, I fail to see why Macdonalds should pay for the arts graduate serving fries.

    • Senex
      13/08/2010 at 5:55 pm

      LB: Think about this! If graduates fill jobs that don’t really require graduates then a degree becomes a barrier to people who could do the job without one. From the employer’s point of view, a freebie such as a state subsidised graduate is like being given the choice of staying at a Travelodge or a Hilton and choosing the Hilton. Luxuries should be paid for and employers are creating the demand for these luxuries at the taxpayers expense.

      • Lord Blagger
        13/08/2010 at 8:55 pm

        Like subsidised drinking in the Lords and free second homes?

  12. Carl.H
    13/08/2010 at 4:19 pm

    Talking of Universities and knowing the noble Baroness Murphy has some taste…

    This monstrosity was built in Southend Town Centre as part of the new University…

    http://www.echo-news.co.uk/resources/images/1111505/?type=display

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_XMWNSlseYBA/S3x6keX32yI/AAAAAAAABAA/NdJ_Z78Dz3U/s400/photo(2).jpg

    Wonderful it is NOT ! Southend on Sea has history, a Victorian vintage. The Council are wreaking havoc to the absolute disgust of most residents.

    • Lord Blagger
      13/08/2010 at 9:39 pm

      Carl I have to agree. It is an absolute nightmare of a building.

  13. TSteffen
    14/08/2010 at 6:33 pm

    I think the connection to the university is the real problem. At the moment it is very tangible: the student pays his/her university, and gets decent education in return.

    With a tax, how would that work? Would there be a Cambridge tax, an Oxford tax, a Liverpool tax? And are they charged at the same rate? Maybe Oxford can charge less (in percent terms) because graduates earn more?

    And that is not even mentioning the timing problem: education costs now, taxes come in later. Who is footing the bill in the mean time? The government does not want to, the universities can’t, and the student has been freed from it.

    Coalition or not, it just does not add up.

  14. baronessmurphy
    15/08/2010 at 3:47 pm

    Jonathan, There is a market in higher education as you say, one based on overall quality ratings of teaching and research and student preferences. This seems to me to be a good thing as Chair of Council of a University where we are trying to attract the best students. I think it’s vital that fees should go direct to universities and that they should be able to vary the fees according to market forces. We can afford to lose a good many universities and probably should. On your later points, I don’t accept that young people of 18/19 are somehow not the responsibility of their parents any more; it’s a time of transition from youth to adulthood. Most still live at home. I know they can vote and do all kinds of things independently but most people of that age have not truly become ‘adults’. I watch the maturing and development of our students from entry to graduation; most arrive as kids and exit as mature young people. Parents who have forked out £10-15,000 per year for a private school (after tax), that ‘s about 10% of the parents of school pupils, could still afford to contribute to a child’s higher education. If all those who could afford it were obliged to do so, then there would be a good basis to establish the bursaries for students whose families could not afford to pay or mature students who had insufficient savings. It’s doable and would remove universities from the clutches of government dependence. Lady Deech makes similar points and of course I agree with her.
    Croft, I agree the graduate tax would encourage the brain drain although no doubt there’s ways to soak the poor sods before they exit for good
    JSDM, Senex, yes there are opportunities for employers to fund education; in fact all postgrad stuff in medicine and undergrad degrees in other healthcare professions are now funded by the employer (the NHS) but we’d end up with probably with more golf management course (I gather this is a rather good and popular degree given the number of new courses) and sensibly less ‘meeja’ studies. I rather fear for ancient Greek and medieval history, which in my book at any rate are very worth while objects of study.

    Carl H Oh I do agree that building is a horror; there’s another on the Holloway Road, part of London Metropolitan University, that on paper looks good stand alone but is sandwiched in between Victorian shops and looks terrible. On the other hand there’s Tesco store in Ipswich whose architectural grandeur we refer to as ‘Tesco University’. But lots of university buildings are dire, we could perhaps have a competition for the worst.
    Lady Tizzy, I agree with you and Jonathan about there being too many people going to university. What we need (and I think the coalition accepts this) is more vocational, professional and technical training and skills places which allow people to progress in a range of directions after school, not ruling out a degree path but matching skills to the jobs market available. The important thing is not to stop people from reaching their personal potential and allowing career progression when they leave school at 18.

  15. Lord Blagger
    15/08/2010 at 10:48 pm

    Lets keep it simple.

    Just fine successful students.

    The effect is identical to a graduate tax.

  16. 16/08/2010 at 7:57 am

    Fallacies abound wherever Money is any major part of a parliamentary topic or of a People’s problem.

    One such here remains that the employee chooses their own workplace-skills, and must pay to be taught competence therein.

    The first basic fact is that the employer dictates what skill-and-further-potential the employee must already have before applying for the job
    that that employer owns.

    The second basic fact is that that employer will be walking off with the major profits won by the work of that empoyee.

    Our task is to tackle the dual-fallacy in Money-Thinking that runs like two mutations of the same plague, on the one hand through our civilisation’s Workplace Governance and so-called ‘Economics’, and on the other hand through our civilisation’s ‘Popular’-Thinking, Lifeplace-cultures, educational-curricula, and belief-systems.

    Since the LordsoftheBlog posting-peers are evidently prone to unconscious or deliberate insertion of fallacy into their writings, and commenters and repliers likewise unconsciously or deliberately insert fallacy into their writings too, different though these ‘public’ types of fallacy may often be, it should behove us to make a point of first and foremost pointing out any fallacy, or at least of circling verbal-conten that ‘looks like congtaining a fallacy (“but one can’t immediately both name it and show both the bad-ness of it alongside such good-ness as may be tending to confuse and hide the fallacious-element,
    ==========
    Summary: 1. Scrutinise both others’ and your own writings for fallacy-content.
    2. Name it, desxcribe it’s wrong-ness.
    3. A soon as possible identify the good elements that need to be teased-out from that fallacious-context.

    Universsity costs (including students’ residential, tuition and legal fees) should be paid for ‘up-front’ by the Business/Economics/”Private”/”Individual-capitalistic-wealthy’ stakeholders; not majorly by th students nor the public.
    ============
    JSDM(0757M16Aug10)

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