At a time when tax revenues have collapsed and the Government is having to make very tough choices about spending, is feathering the nests of rich university graduates really a priority? These students are selfishly arguing that money should be redistributed to them, even though they aren’t a needy group.
A Guardian editorial in 2009 argued that “a rise in fees would make University education fairer”. The editorial was wrong in that it argued “students from wealthier families should be charged more to support the less well off”. In fact, the system the Government has proposed, in which the Government pays all upfront fees and recharges it later to the graduate themselves, is far more fair than expecting families to save up and fork out. But they were on the right lines. I wonder if their editorial line has changed since.
In the same edition, David Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee and economics columnist for the New Statesman, said that the “poor have been subsidising the rich” for too many years:
“The poor have been subsidising the rich. And now the rich are shouting because they are losing their subsidy – because they are paying £3,000 to go to Oxford and they should be paying £30,000.”
“You make the rich pay the market price and use that money to fund the poor,” he argued.
The Government’s repayment system starts to achieve this, with a deferred and graduated repayment on on 9% of income above £21,000, with outstanding repayments written off after 30 years. A quarter of graduates, the poorest, will pay less than under the current system. Almost a million students will receive more overall maintenance support than they do now.
Graduates can expect to earn more than non-graduates. The Browne review calculated a cumulative graduate premium of £120,000 compared to people moving into the workplace with just A-levels. This even applies to arts graduates, though they bring down the average while lawyers and doctors push it up. The Graduate Premium is worth £400,000 compared to the national average wage. Those with the broadest shoulders should, as they say, bear the heaviest burden.
Even worse is reading lefties calling for access to University to be limited by cutting places . This smacks even more of them defending their elitist privileges.
This looks to me like a curiously reactionary protest, with the elites trying to preserve their position and their perks at the expense of the poor.