The suggested means of raising extra money for the funding of
university education by interest-free loans from the government, to be
repaid only if and when
graduate is earning £18,000 pa, will benefit poorest families the
most and all families to a significiant extent. There is no other way
that has been suggested so far to raise the extra funding now seen as
Those who are deterred from trying for the university of their choice
on the grounds that the poorest will be the most disadvantaged under
proposed scheme are definitely not good university material, so no loss
there to them or the nation.
Raising the extra
funds by general taxation would be a very bad idea.
This increased tax would be paid for by all those who do not go to
university and avoided by all those who over the coming decades work
outside the UK where, in the globalised economy with English as a major
international language, a majority of new jobs will appear
The UK economy
has been saved from recession for the last few years by
the availability of credit by banks pushing competitive credit cards -
competing by allowing individuals to borrow beyond their capability to
repay. The rising house market has supported the false sense of
security. Now that interest rates are low due to global forces, other
factors will come into play to force people to stop borrowing. Rates
will rise a bit, but there will be other deterrents to borrowing. There
will be many bankruptcies
[Note added Aug 6th
2004 - News just released is that bankruptcies have risen 30% compared
to same period a year ago]
[Note added May 7th 2006: Personal bankruptcies in England an Wales for
the first quarter is the highest since the 1960s. The number of
companies going bankrupt is the highest for 3 years]
On the other hand the current offer of a university education on the
terms suggested by the government (with a few tweaks if some viable
suggestions come up in the process of enacting the bill) is the best
deal individuals and the nation is ever likely to get, and those who
argue against are either fools or fundamentally dishonest.
As for the argument that all universities must run at the same level of
costs and opportunities, this could only be advocated by people with
little experience or knowledge of the world and definitely a poor
education, wherever it was received. It is not desirable, even if it
were theoretically possible, which it is not.
PS: Just seen this: not a bad commentary - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/3247104.stm
JAN 8th 2004
It looks as if the government might lose the vote on this issue.
The Tory opposition is as usual completely unprincipled. The labour
rebels believe they are representing their constituents. They would
represent them better of they studied the problem and voted according
to good sense on their constituents' behalf, which is what they are
elected to do. The concessions made already have made the scheme
less beneficial for all. Only a reasonably realistic 'roll-over' method
of financing can do the job, and the health of the system as a whole is
what will benefit every citizen, whether they go to university or not.
But this sort of comprehension only seems to take hold in the minds of
those who are really faced with the reality of government. I
assume that the PM will stand by the scheme and go down with the ship
if necessary. It will be the country's loss, not his, if we
cobble together a worse, useless alternative. The claim that it would
lead to a two-tier education system is of course nonsense. It is
already multi-tiered and so it should be, for the good of all.
JULY 16th 2004
I was reminded yesterday, in the context of Unversities, of that famous
speeech by Neil Kinnock on he subject in which he said (or rather
"Why should I be the first
Kinnock, in a thousand
generations, to go to
university? Is it because we were all thick?"
Let us try to answer that question. If we count a generation (to be as
kind as possible), as only 25 years, then he is talking about the last
25,000 years. Let us put Universities in that context:
Tuesday, May 4, 1999 Published at
08:10 GMT 09:10 UK
'Earliest writing' found
The fragments of pottery are
about 5,500 years old
Exclusive by BBC News Online
Science Editor Dr David Whitehouse
Hmm.... let us put Wales into that context (I am indebted to the
writers of these extracts which you can find on the Web by searching):
Some 850 years ago, Geoffrey of Monmouth distinguished himself for all
time by writing the "History of the Kings of Britain," (an early MS is
pictured at right) the first continuous, written account of the deeds
of the British people. The "History" purported to tell their story from
sometime around 1100 BC, to the final triumph of the Saxons, which we
are told came with the demise of Cadwallader in 689 AD.
So, if we
take it that in Geoffrey of Monmouth's day, he considered that the
history of the Welsh went back 2,000 year maximum, it is unlikely
there were going to be universities until quite recently
It is not until
the end of Henry II's reign, that is about 1180, that
we know, chiefly on the authority of Giraldus Cambrensis, that a large
body of scholars was in residence at Oxford, though not probably yet
living under any organized constitution. [Ref
So if we assume there were Kinnocks then, they would need to
have been very lucky and very ascendant to be in a university, not
25,000 years but only 1,000 years ago!!!
So taking all in all, if Kinnock is an example of the inherited
imaginative intelligence in the Kinnock family, that is to say he is
representative, the answer to his question was be supplied the moment
he posed it, by himself. It is YES, with the qualifier relatively
I did not enjoy writing that because I have always admired Kinnock, I
would have voted for him; and I think he has done good work in Europe.
But the answer is still YES.
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 8th 2005
David Cameron, contender for the Tory Leadership, has today admitted
that his party's pledge to scrap the tuition fees now in place would
make no sense and leave the universities in a 'black hole'. Yes,
that was the point of the tuition fees, to make a move towards avoiding
Now on OCTOBER 25th 2005 we are given the official statistics: ONE
GRADUATE IN 6 CHOOSES TO WORK ABROAD. This proves the point which I
made in NOVEMBER 2003 and which I have now emphasised above. Could it be that
at last we have a potential Tory leader who can walk, chew gum and
count on his fingers?
In a TV Debate on Nov 4th David Davis, having blamed the EU for all our
ills and vowing to get out of everything except the common market, then
praised Ireland as the model of how to run an economy. DOH!
Fees move vindicated, says Blair
New figures showing a rise in university applications "completely
vindicated" the move to charge top-up fees, Tony Blair has said.
Critics of the policy to
allow universities to charge variable fees of up to £3,000 a year
September were proven wrong, the prime minister added.
Figures from admissions service Ucas revealed a 6.4% rise in
applications for the academic year 2007-8.
It follows a drop for 2006-7 when the new fees system was
| None of the fears of critics
have come to pass
Speaking at Brunel University in Uxbridge, Middlesex, Mr Blair said:
"More than one vice-chancellor has told me that tuition fees have been
the saviour of their university.
"Yesterday's university admission numbers, which show a
big increase on last year and a rise even of the bumper intake of 2005,
are a complete vindication of that policy."
Mr Blair said that although the policy was "clearly right", it had
been "very difficult politically" at the time.
The government bill scraped through Parliament in early 2004 with a
majority of five, after both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats
Many MPs and student activists predicted undergraduate
numbers would collapse as potential students were scared off by the
huge debts they were likely to build up.
But Mr Blair said: "None of the fears of critics have come to pass.
"Applications have not fallen - they have risen. Critics said that
fees would deter the poorest students. They haven't.
"As fees rise, the new system offers more grants to the poorest and
graduates start repayments only when they are earning enough to do so.
"Critics said that the income from fees would, in any
case, be insufficient. In fact, we have halted the decline in funding
But the National Union of Students said further
information was still needed to establish how students from
"under-represented and debt-averse backgrounds" were responding to the
new fees regime.
Much has happened in the intervening years since my last entry.
a greatly increased number of people going to university and
graduating, though what this has actually achieved for them or the
nation is unclear. As for the cost, the argument continues now within
the Tory-Liberal coalition (an oxymoron). Vince Cable (for the
Liberals) has decided that he could accept graduates paying through a
higher income-tax rate when they are employed later in their career.
How this differs from the concept of them repaying interest-free loans
when they earn enough to afford it is unclear to me, other than if they
go abroad to earn a high salary after their tax-payer funded higher
education, the higher income tax will presumably not apply to them or
come back to the UK Treasury. I am unimpressed. Cable's cop-out fails
to do the job in spite of the fact that it reverses his previous stand.
JULY 15th 2010
HA HA HA!!! The Students union has come out in favour of Cable's
wheeze! Of course they have. What a great way to subsidise the national
brain-drain, already likely to become a flood if this government does
not invest in a future of employment in this country worthy of it's
educated citizens. So, get a freee education and take it abroad to
where the tax regime and the climate suits and the laws encourage all
sorts of clever moneymaking wheezes and the country probably outsources
its defence. Or try the US, they understand English there even if they
don't speak it so much these days.
OCTOBER 24th 2010
Tories and Liberals are in
coalition. Nick Cleg is Deputy PM, Vince Cable and Clegg are
implementing many things they promised to oppose. Even the Scots are
beginning to realise a University Education has to be paid for at some
time in a student's life. Meanwhile, universities are to be given the
right to set their fees but not without limits.
Ministers appear to have ruled out allowing universities to set
unlimited tuition fees in England.
NOVEMBER 3rd 2010
Universities in England
will be able to charge tuition fees of up to £9,000 per year, as
the government transfers much of the cost of courses from the state to
Liberal supporters in
the student community are spitting tacks. The government plans special
measures to support entrants whose means are insufficient to cover
courses they are offered on merit.
NOVEMBER 6th 2010
I think it is time to close this file in the interests of the
preservation of sanity. We have apparently intelligent people
maintaining that university education should be free, as it is in (they
tell us) most EU countries. Of course it is not. A university education
costs whatever the total of the staff's salaries and the other costs of
maintaining the buildings adds up to divided by the number of student
graduates it turns out. The only argument is about who should pay for
it and when. The current scheme devised by the government is that the
state should pay at the time and collect the money off taxpayers as a
whole (same as in any other country) but proportionately more from
successful graduates who earn more than £21,000 per annum until
the amount collected from each of these meets the agreed cost (at the
time) of their particular case. This 'collection' is entirely
conditional on their income at the time of collection. Most
importantly, this collection from graduates does not start until those
who enter university NOW under the new contract have reached the stage
in their lives where repayment is applicable, if at all. The cost is
still therefore borne to a great extent by general taxation at this
time as indeed it should be, but there is a distinct advantage in the
future which avoids a potential financial disaster, a disaster spotted
I am glad to see by our civils servants who must have benefited from a
good university education, which they must have succeeded in explaining
to our politicians. This elephant trap is largely the consequence of
globalisation as it affects every aspect of employment, travel,
communications and trade etc.. In the future, the means to collect
equitably and reliably by general taxation the sufficient funding of UK
university education, and to allocate it equally equitably could well
be almost impossible. Many countries could face the same problems but
in the case of the UK we are a special case for many reasons involving
history, language, financial and political models and a great deal else.
I therefore rest my case in saying the policy the government has
settled on, although it can be tweaked, is basically the only sensible
option that hs been proposed.
NOVEMBER 30th 2010
So the Welsh, who have refused all top-up fees so far will now opt out
of the English plan in some way I have yet to understand. It seems that
the increase (which English students will not pay anyway unless
they graduate and earn over £21,000 p.a. and then not all at
once) will be paid by 'the Assembly'. Well bully for the Assembly! Are
they going to pay all this as it is incurred, up front? Out of which
budget - and where does it come from other than the Bank of England
that pays the English students fees anyway. So all it means is Welsh
students at some future date pay less and their less educated and less
successful countrymen pay more.
Meanwhile in the UK students, with so little brains a university
education is wasted on them, riot. Vince Cable should be there, in his
feet at the riots and sit-ins, telling the students why they are wrong
in theory, wrong in practice and should go home or back to work.
Leadership is what is wanted, in a hard hat.
DECEMBER 10th 2010
Amongst the rioting thugs in London (supposedly students) there is one
whose father is complaining that his son was damaged when he was hit on
the head by a police truncheon. I thought that was the point of
truncheons, there is a risk if you get involved in really dangerous,
stupid rioting, of being seriously hurt by those trying to stop you. If
not, how could anybody be deterred? Charles and Camilla's car (on the
way to the Royal Variety Performance) had the window smashed.
Their armed guard played it cool - after all these thugs must be
understood because, well, life is so
unfair!! Isn't it? Up to £9.000 a year of high quality university
education paid for up front by the treasury, which you only have to pay
back if you earn (and keep earning) more than enough to afford it later
in life - and even then on absurdly easy terms. And if you can afford a
roof over your head or food during yor university days, that will be
taken care of too. Time to riot now!
I was very glad to hear quite a few people speaking out to say
proper basic schooling was more important that university education for