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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bidding starts on tuition fees

Once you have accepted the principle that education is no longer going to be free, then you have turned a place of learning into a marketplace.

Then it is just a matter of setting the price and the consquence of that is a bidding war. Hence in this morning's Observer we have David "Danny" Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee calling for students from well-off families to be charged the "market rate" of up to £30,000 a year to go to university.

He believes that universities should be able to charge the richest students large fees while providing financial aid to the less well off. In this instance the target of his ire are familes who already opt out of the system by paying huge sums of money to send their kids to private school. Is this a natural extension of Gordon Brown's class war?

The fact is that even with such large sums of money at their disposal university bursary schemes often miss their target and poorer students remain deterred from higher education by the debts they will accrue during their studies.

Professor Blanchflower uses as an example Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, an American university that is a member of the Ivy League, where he teaches. He says half the students there receive financial aid. However, most of those students still need to do jobs to pay their way, undermining their studies. Moreover, if we were to adopt this system we would be in danger of creating colleges that are effectively full of haves and have-nots, in which those whose parents cough up the full tariff for their education might expect gold star treatment.

Professor Blanchflower earned a B.A. in Social Sciences (Economics) at the University of Leicester in 1973 and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at the University of Birmingham in 1975. He received an M.Sc. (Economics) at the University of Wales in 1981 and his Ph.D. in 1985 at Queen Mary, University of London. Do we think that he paid his own tuition fees for his undergraduate degree? No, of course he didn't. Perhaps he would like to make amends by sending a cheque for £90,000 to the Chancellor of the Exchequer straight away. I am sure we can negotiate the price for all those postgraduate qualifications later.
All very good having to pay tuition fees, but when you've got university departments saying that you should be starting off on a minimum of £25,000 then you are in the relms of fantasy wages in Wales.

Lets face facts when I graduated in 1988 I was told that there are no jobs in Wales, you've got to go to England to get a job, or in the case of Prof Blanchflower, you've got to go to New England (NH).

Its unfortunate, that "An Ignorant, Stupid American" isn't commenting on your blogs
I had the option to go to university and chose not to. It has been calculated that the career value of a university degree to most people is around £100,000. The majority of millionaires not only did not go to university but flunked out of school.

The problems of the world, the shambolic political system, the credit crunch all of it were caused by people with university degrees.

What is the message. Well there is something called the university of life which involves working from the bottom up and a period of getting your hands dirty which teaches you all the skills of life including training your instincts and feelings which is the university I went to.

We have created the myth that education equals a great life which is a load of rubbish. When you choose to learn you acquire wisdom and when you are made to learn or choose to learn as the soft option it leads to foolishness.

I believe the young need to be kicked into the real world at sixteen. I believe everyone should pay for their university education. I believe the time to go to university is later in life( which is when I would like to go) when you have figured a few things out, have truly learned to question and know your own mind.

I believe the present sysyem produces egotistical half trained fools running everything from the government to large corporations and call centres. it leads to box thinking which is not thinking at all and an almost complete lack of creativity and true originality. It produces people who lack basic social skills and are far beyond their level of competence.

A massively scaled back education system would hugely reduce the ridiculous drain on resources and achieve the objective of kicking the young into the world of reality which the political world also needs to understand as we are, in fact completely out of real money.It's a place where there is not a bottomless pit of money and it does not grow on trees an attitude fueled by free or cheap university education.

Jeremy Holtom

'Once you have accepted the principle that education is no longer going to be free, then you have turned a place of learning into a marketplace'

Well, no.

Education has never been free - but it has been free for some and/or subsidised.

If a marketplace is introduced that's not to say that education suddenly becomes only a marketplace.

When I went to university tuition fees were covered from general taxation, subsistence grants were available (but means-tested) and about 7% of the population, mainly from well-off families, completed degree courses.

Where's the legitimacy in expecting working-class families to pay taxes to subsidise middle-class teenagers to study - for example - art history?

Perhaps Professor Blanchflower colud be expected to repay some of the cost of his education if that had been the terms under which he'd agreed to study. If not, that's as sensible a suggestion as my thinking it'd been a good idea to apply a retrospective income tax on members of the Welsh Assembly.
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