Votes and Violence Don’t Mix
So the Coalition has “won” its vote on increasing Student Tuition fees in England to up to £9000 a year. Once again the police seemed unprepared for the level of protest, even allowing dear old Charles and Camilla to be attacked in their car. Obviously any level of violent protest is wrong, especially about something like this. However the level of frustration and anger felt by many regarding this increase is utterly understandable.
Why does it cost £9000 anyway?
My first question is why fees would need to be increased to a level like £9k. Surely along with every other institution universities and colleges need to implement efficiencies and savings in the current climate. It seems very strange that the cost of tuition fees alone should ever have to reach a level which is far more than that required for school children in the state sector, who of course have real “full time” education. So my first response to Uncle Vince and the boys would be “what are you doing to ensure Universities review their costs along with every other public institution?”
University Education is not right for all
The elephant in the room on this debate seems to be the notion, promoting by New Labour, that everyone should go to college and get a degree. Whilst this is an admirable aim, it has no real basis in reality and has led to an increase in places (and costs) and of course an increase in comedy degree courses with all the scorn and cynicism they attract. There is nothing wrong with leaving school and going straight into a job, and 3 more years of “study”, especially in a nebulous area of the “academic” sphere, in all likelihood adds little to some students armoury for a future career. So let’s be realistic about how many school leavers can and should go on to higher education. Obviously those not going to college need to have a real job to go to and this is where Government time, energy and focus should be going.
Student Debt is no joke
For those who do go on to further education the level of debt they already rack up is no laughing matter, and this situation will only make it far worse. The inevitable result will be to put off those from less wealthy backgrounds, and hence restrict the “social mobility” and “opportunity” all governments purport to promote. It is outrageous that students north of the border can somehow remain funded when English students are saddled with increasingly large debts. The argument that not all tax payers should subsidise university education for the few is also fatuous. Why not say healthy people should not have to pay taxes for the NHS or working people should not have to pay taxes to pay for DSS (or whatever it’s called these days) claimants – now that’s not such a bad idea.. Anyway you get the point. Proper university education for those that are suited to it, doing courses that benefit all, is a good thing for society as a whole, and should rightly therefore be subsidised by all.
So what next?
Well the coalition has I think been shocked by the level of dissent and unrest. Typically Ed VeryBland has offered absolutely no alternative – stating only that he thinks it’s a “bad idea” but stating that he is unable to say that he would reverse the decision. If something’s that wrong mate then you change it, and find the money to do so. Anyway my only hope is that Uncle Vince and the boys will see sense at some point and focus on the dealing with the elephant of “universal universities” and university costs in general. By doing this, and hopefully with rising economic fortunes, by 2012 when this is due to come into force they might be in a position to quietly drop it anyway. We shall see. In the meantime students should keep protesting, but please leave Charlie Boy’s car alone cos it won’t win you many friends!!