Thursday, 9 December 2010

Tuition Fees

I doubt if many Liberal Democrats are looking this way but I thought they may wish to consider the following:
We are told that the essential justification for raising tuition fees is that the nation's finances are in a parlous state and so payment from central government funds to universities have to be cut by 40% in order to meet the Governments four-year plan for fixing the structural deficit. Consequently, tuition fees have to rise to make up the shortfall. The cut to universites and the increase in fees are to be introduced in September 2012 which will be year 3 in the plan. It is a matter of conjecture how well the economy will have recovered by then but the Government otherwise tell us that the private sector will be doing its thing and getting us back on track so maybe such a drastic cut won't be necessary after all. But in any case, students in September 2012 will be borrowing the money to pay the fees from the government and not paying anything back until some years later and even then repayment will be gradual. So isn't the government, in cash flow terms, still spending the same as it would have had the cut not been implemented? The difference is merely one of accounting practice, enabling the Government to take that expenditure off its books in terms of current revenue even though in years 3 and 4 of the plan they have actually spent what would have been spent anyway without the cuts.
But meanwhile, of course, it is a step forward in Conservative ideological terms i.e. the privatisation of education.

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