.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tuition Fees revisited

A few weeks ago the Welsh Assembly Government announced that it would be phasing out the tuition fee grant for new students from academic year 2010-11 and instead introducing a series of means-tested benefits aimed at the poorest students so as to enable them to attend University.

Welsh Liberal Democrats have opposed this move for reasons Jenny Randerson outlined at the time:

The total amount set aside to assist students going to university is to be cut by approximately 40 per cent. As a result of this package, there will no longer be any financial incentive to study in Wales, which was a key reason for introducing the tuition fee grant. Its purpose was to assist Welsh institutions to build their capacity by encouraging students to study in Wales. Also, we all know that students who study in Wales are more likely to stay in Wales, and we need their skills.

The complexity of the package, Minister, is in itself a big problem, because there is a maze of entitlements in this announcement, many of which are means-tested. The Welsh Liberal Democrats remain firmly committed to the principle that a university education should be free as of right—in principle and in practice. We remain convinced that the tuition fee grant was the best solution in light of the existence of top-up fees in England.

In the circumstances I am astonished that the Deputy Minister for Regeneration did not join in to agree. In 1985, Leighton Andrews produced a pamphlet called 'Liberalism Versus the Social Market Economy' in which he wrote: 'there are fundamental reasons for arguing against a transfer to means-tested welfare benefits for political activists seeking to challenge the divisions between those in and out of the workforce. Means-testing generally involves stigma, low take-up and a sharp division between those seen to be ‘enjoying’ the benefits and those paying for them.'

Does he still stand by those words?
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?