Sunday, April 17, 2005

Unselfish students

The much maligned undergraduate and postgraduate students are not nearly as selfish as you may have imagined. Why else would they apparently be supporting the Liberal Democrats in such large numbers? They pay minimal income tax each year until they get proper jobs, they are exempt from council tax and Labour had expected them to pay up to £3,000 from next year to help cover the costs of their degree courses. Far better for other people to pay for their student years than themselves. How selfish are these rich people!?! No doubt they will be just as happy to fund everyone else when they are earning a decent wage!!


lascivious said...

To be fair, once employed they tend to put more taxes back than they take out and free education for all is one of the pillars of our society. The introduction of tuition fees has many effects, one of which discourages poor students from aspiring to a university education.

If Labour wanted a true "level playing field" they would do one of two things:
1) Make education free again and support the students by a grants system
2) Allow universities to charge any fees they wish, but insist a comprehensive scholarship system is in place for those that cannot afford them.

Personally, I prefer the latter, as only then can we have a "level playing field" for prospective students coupled with institutions that can compete with the best in the world.

Snafu said...

Lascivious, I have a couple of problems with tuition fees.

When they were introduced it annoyed me that the individuals who benefit most out of the education (and earn more) are then also expected to pay higher rate income tax effectively paying for their higher education twice.

On the other hand, by having tuition fees, it should concentrate the minds of those people seeking a higher education and make sure that they believe that it is worth making the commitment of three years of study at a University. I am not convinced free education for all at tertiary level is in the best interests of the wider society. Tuition fees should also improve University standards as students will become true "consumers" of tertiary education. They are paying £3,000 per year, they should then be able to demand a first rate education. If Universities fail to provide this, they should be allowed to close and only "Good" universities will continue to prosper. The downside of course is that Universities will have a conflict of interest as they issue their own degrees. How long will it be before some Universities provide an atrocious education yet 25% of their students attain the all important first!?!

lascivious said...

The problem is, £3000 is simply not enough. This government underfund science courses to the tune of £6000 per student per year. Then there is the chronic underfunding of research, ringfenced money meaning management are not allowed to spend money on what is needed... the list is endless.

The government needs to spend more and fund the universities properly (which won't happen - the funding needs to go up by at least 2), reduce the number of crap universities and courses (which won't happen if the 50% red herring continues) or allow universities near complete autonomy (effectively allowing them to charge what they like - which also probably won't happen).

What is the way forward? From someone on the inside, I say option 3 for the reasons I pointed out below.

lascivious said...

How long will it be before some Universities provide an atrocious education yet 25% of their students attain the all important first!?!

Oh and I forgot - already a reality. :)

Snafu said...

I think we are nearly in agreement!! If we didn't have the fanciful idea of 50% of young people attending Universities, the same level of funding could be far better spent on fewer universities and courses producing higher quality graduates. The funding is being spread far too thinly.