Thursday 4 November 2010
University Fees Scandal
It was Rog T who once wrote that Don’t Call Me Dave has made more comebacks than Status Quo. This is not a comeback! As regular readers will recall, DCMD decided to quit the blogosphere in preparation for his new life as a part-time University student. Over the course of 422 postings, he said pretty much everything there was to say about the greedy self serving parasites who run the Town Hall and the equally useless and ineffective Labour opposition.
Indeed, there is nothing that Barnet’s discredited Tories could ever do that would either surprise DCMD or induce him to resume writing about the council. Rather, this one-off posting has been prompted by the coalition Government’s announcement to hike University tuition fees to between £6,000 and £9,000 per annum.
The decision exposes the Liberal Democrats as the shameful two-faced hypocrites and liars that most of us already knew them to be. Perhaps they had simply become accustomed to making populist pledges in opposition without actually considering that one day they would have their grubby mitts on the reigns of power. They do not need to worry about voters making the same mistake again.
But worst of all, there is something deeply unpleasant about a group of privileged MPs, many of whom have benefited from a taxpayer funded University education, removing the very same privilege from future generations.
Now DCMD is well aware that the nation’s finances are in a perilous state thanks to Pa Broon’s near destruction of the economy, but when Tony Blair introduced University fees (having explicitly promised not to) the Conservatives bitterly opposed the plans - and for good reason. Put simply, it is surely better to have students in higher education than languishing on the dole with no prospects?
Of course, even in good economic times, not every degree leads to an automatic job, but it is certainly true that when times are hard, job applicants need every bit of assistance available and a degree gives students a far better chance than having no qualifications whatsoever.
In the run up to the last General Election, David Cameron said, correctly, that the country was living beyond its means and borrowing had to be brought under control. A generation has been raised on the concept of cheap and seemingly endless credit. Yet the very same person who was preaching financial prudence, is now telling students they have to rack up bills of tens of thousands of Pounds, to be paid back at a rate of interest above inflation.
Is it really wise or desirable to allow students to start out their working lives already up to their eye-balls in debt? Furthermore, students with the temerity to pay their loans off early will now have to pay punitive mortgage style redemption fees. Apparently, this proposal is a sop to the LibDems but it is hardly likely to encourage financial responsibility in later life.
A Government spokesman on the radio explained that during the review carried out by Lord Browne (he who lied during a court case a few years ago) it was discovered that when fees were first introduced, it had no noticeable effect on admissions. Well no shit Sherlock! School leavers have no concept of money or debt. They haven't had to pay a proper bill in their lives. But by the time they have to start repaying their student loans, it will be too late.
Many young students will be unable to pay the higher fees. These are the same people the country desperately needs to generate the future wealth necessary to pay the gold plated pensions for MPs and civil servants. It will be nothing less than a scandal of incalculable proportions if our best talent is excluded from higher education for short term financial savings.
The Education Minister, David Willetts, told the Commons that the proposals are in the best interest of Universities. It is not immediately clear how it can be of any benefit to society if only the richest students can afford to attend in future.