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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Labour's alternative on tuition fees

There was an interesting article in yesterday's Telegraph in which David Willetts, the Universities Minister, attacked Labour proposals for a shake-up of higher education finance, claiming that it will lead to a dramatic drop in grants and bursaries for the most deprived undergraduates.

Mr. Willetts' comments are a response to the announcement by Ed Miliband that he will cut student tuition fees by a third. From 2012, undergraduates in England can be charged up to £9,000. But earlier this year Mr Miliband said students would only be charged £6,000 under a Labour government. The move would be partially funded by forcing graduates earning at least £65,000 to pay more.

However, the Minister believes that the proposals are “deeply muddled” and risk leaving poor students worse off:

His letter said the support available to low-income undergraduates would be cut by £350m to cover the costs of a lower fees cap. It also places a question mark over a £160m national scholarship programme to provide £3,000 grants to individual students, it was claimed.

And he said that the changes would leave graduates no better off in the short term because monthly repayments would be the same as those charged under the Coalition reforms.

Mr Willetts added: “Your proposals assume there will be higher repayments from graduates on the highest salaries… But your particular model has enormous problems that you appear to have ignored.

“First, you claim that the extra payments will be made by the 10 per cent of graduates who earn over £65,000 in each and every year of their working life – a somewhat implausible sum given that graduate starting salaries are closer to £25,000 and that employers and employees could game the system in order to avoid the extra repayments.

“Secondly, universities will not see the benefits of any larger repayments until the system has matured many years after its introduction – in the meantime, you would either need to cut funding or increase the deficit.”

Under the Coalition reforms, universities planning to charge more than £6,000 a year had to submit access agreements to the Office for Fair Access, detailing how they intended to support students and ensure those from poorer homes were not deterred.

Most universities announced that they would charge fees at or close to the maximum of £9,000 - with the poorest students being offered bursaries or fee-waivers.

Earlier this month, Offa announced 24 universities were cutting average fee to £7,500 or less to take advantage of a scheme that allows them to bid for a share of 20,000 additional student places.

Labour's problem is that it has consistently framed this debate in terms of headline figures rather than the reality faced by most students, namely how much they will have to pay and when. Whatever one thinks of the UK Coalition tuition fees policy (and I believe that it is wrong as Labour's was before it), it treats poorer students better than under the previous regime and any changes need to take account of that.

Miliband's obsession with headline figures and his failure to look at the details has meant that his policy fails the basic test of affordability and leaves the Higher Education sector out on a limb.
not quite on point, but ... and a HAPPY NEW YEAR to you too! cw
Tuition fees, as with the rest of education policy in Wales is devolved. It was last year and it is this year. Perhaps if LibDem AMs were to address the issue in Wales rather than go off on a tangent on baseless arguments of Labour down in Westminster, you might have a point. Just to remind you Peter, you voted in favour of the 2012 Labour budget in Wales.
Your horizons may be limited by the Welsh border but mine is not. Tuition Fee policy may be devolved but what ever is decided in Westminster has a mjor impact on Welsh decisions so it is still relevant to the Assembly.

Yes we did vote in favour of the 2012 budget but I dont see what bearing that has on this debate.
I'm kind of in favour of students paying towards the cost of university tuition given that so many go to university than in the past and in view of the simple fact that the country can't afford to pay full tuition and/or living costs. It also helps prospective university students to think hard about the relevance of their chosen degree. Poorer students might seek to take a vocational degree in say accountancy and administration. Those with an engineering interest might do a degree in electrical, civil or mech engineering, and those with a science interest a degree in applied science such as biotechnology combined with business studies.
Post a Comment

<< Home

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