Thursday, 20 September 2012

Tuition fees - my view

Spurred on by Nick Clegg (see below) I thought that I would take the opportunity to restate my own view on tuition fees which is that I am totally opposed to them and believe that they should be scrapped as soon as possible. I suppose that I should declare an interest in that I have 2 daughters - one of whom has completed her degree and is about to start a Masters and the other who is about to start her second year on a degree - so I have some first hand knowledge of the level of debt many of our young people now have hanging round their necks. Now I know that we are told that it will be years before they have to pay anything back and that even then it will be at some very low rate however one of the problems with society is the level of personal debt we have all accumulated. If I was a young person with an outstanding debt of £30K relating to my degree course I could only cope by pushing it to the far reaches of my mind and having achieved that I might be tempted to play the same trick with my credit card balance, bank overdraft etc etc. I just do not believe that we are playing fair with our young. Now I realise that university costs are spiraling out of control and something needs to be done but is that our fault or the fault of the kids being encouraged to take courses with a massive price tag but no promise of employment at the end. Surely the starting point must be to ensure uni's are offering courses which either ensure graduates are well placed to obtain well paid employment and who will therefore repay society for the investment in their careers with increased tax payments over many years, or are gaining qualifications which will add to the fabric of society such as nursing, medical research, teachers etc who may not earn mega bucks and generate massive tax revenue but will repay society by the nature of the jobs they do. In my view the fault rests on the last Labour government and their determination to get 50% of our young people to university without putting a firm and fair funding arrangement in place and the ridiculous blurring of uni's and polytechnics. The polys provided a range of sensible, cost effective practical courses but have now fallen over each other to become universities eager to offer academic based courses which are not always to the same standard, result in too many graduates in academic areas where jobs simply do not exist and leaving a shortage of more practical courses. I came from a one parent family where money was tight - I enjoyed good education from state schools in the town and was funded through my law degree and solicitors final course by full grants from the state. I believe that I have repaid that investment through my tax contributions and my effort to contribute to society but would I have been able to embark on the same journey if I was now 18 - I have considerable doubts!

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