Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Political point-scoring is not worth damaging a whole generation of youngsters...

(You would only end up paying the fees
if you were made of money!)
Throughout the Tuition Fees debate it was a constant worry that the rhetoric being used would convince students that they couldn't afford to go to University, they would see that fees were going up and assume that this meant they would need a lot of money in order to be able to get a place.  All of this (of course) is simply not true, not a single penny is paid in fees (unlike when I attended after Labour first introduced tuition fees) until after graduation, then it is paid back on an income contingent loan - students only paying back a proportion of their income after they start earning £21,000 (and then it's only on the additional earnings above this amount).  When you consider that they also receive a maintenance loan in cash whilst they are at University, they effectively have to repay this before they've paid any fees whatsoever, many many years after they finish.  It is therefore really worrying that:


(London Evening Standard)


As far as getting the message across, this would indicate that we have failed.  Argue all you like about whether the Lib Dems should have agreed the increase given their pledges or the relative fairness of the contribution that the student should make to the cost of university but this system is actually more progressive (as those who pay most will be the highest earners after graduation and there is no requirement to ever pay it off if you don't earn enough.  Not only this but students are better off for it when they need it most as because of the higher fees they also get higher grants and maintenance allowances than could be afforded if they were never to contribute to their fees.  In other words they receive more money from the government (based on parents income) than their counterparts in Scotland whilst they are studying, to help them - they are just expected to contribute more back once they earn enough.  All that keeping fees at £3k really does is benefit the future bankers of tomorrow - but obviously Labour and the NUS doesn't want to spin that message - we need to start getting our message across.  

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