Keeping Things in Perspective

Yesterday’s education white paper caused a huge amount of angst among students, campaigners, and the public alike.

However, before we default to the typical blind hatred of what must be another upper class aiding Tory policy it would only be sensible to actually examine it:

‘Teenagers from the wealthiest families would be able to pay for extra places at the most competitive universities under government proposals that could allow institutions to charge some British students the same high fees as overseas undergraduates.

Candidates who take up the extra places would not be eligible for publicly funded loans to pay tuition fees or living costs, limiting this option to all but the most privileged households who could pay fees up front.

Under the plans, the extra students may be charged as much as international undergraduates. At the most competitive universities, these students face fees ranging from £12,000 a year for arts subjects to £18,000 for sciences and more than £28,000 for medicine. Applicants would be required to meet the course entry requirements.’

    The Guardian 09/05/11

Let’s unpick some key details then.

‘Candidates who take up the extra places would not be eligible for publicly funded loans’

These wealthy students would have to pay as they learnt, and could not apply for financial help. Although this scheme would only be of advantage to higher earning families directly- increasing their chance of a place- it would also mean that more financial help was there for the truly needy. The people who pay for a new place to be created would indirectly be allowing a less advantaged person a place as well.

‘Under the plans, the extra students may be charged as much as international undergraduates. At the most competitive universities, these students face fees ranging from £12,000 a year for arts subjects to £18,000 for sciences and more than £28,000 for medicine.’

At a price this high, the option would be seldom used and serve little real merit to the extremely rich- they are effectively taxing themselves by exposing themselves to higher course fees. Granted, they have an increased chance, but they would also be aiding the general public.

Critically:

‘Applicants would be required to meet the course entry requirements’

This is crucial in this issue. These students are not creating an otherwise unattainable place. They could go down the state support root, using taxpayer’s money, but this white paper is attempting to avoid that.

At the crux of the matter, we must remember that the country does essentially have a Conservative government, who are liable (and elected) to make right-wing decisions. If we criticise every policy proposal without thought, then we devalue our voice when we genuinely have need to make it heard. Through the gritted teeth of a socialist, I say let this one be, it serves us some advantages anyway, and begin to target our criticism on anything that threatens our Health Service or Education at a realistic and tangible level.

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