Monday, December 20, 2010

The simplicity at the heart of the tuition fees debate

The university fees debate is very very complex, and I have lots of comments on this blog which have gone unanswered for far too long.

Sorry. Blame the snow.

Within complexity there is always a simplicity trying to get out. It is stifled, because the complexitarians are stuck into their complexities which they enjoy using as a bludgeon against the complexities of opposing complexitarians.

The simple truth is that education of the next generation is the duty of the present generation.
It is a tribute from the present to the future. The gods know that we have taken enough away from our children - stable climate, biodiversity and finite resources for starters - so we can at least educate the poor young buggers to help them cope with the mess we bequeath them.

Education must be paid for.

There are two extremes to paying for education. We can either pay it 100% from general taxation, or we can privatise it 100%.

The Green Party's education policy seems to go for the former, 100% taxation extreme, and there are no doubt neo-liberals who would like to see the whole thing totally privatised.

Doing it from general taxation is perfectly reasonable: all society benefits from education, so all society pays for it. It is far more simple and less administratively complex. The graduates pay back through the higher taxes on their enhanced salaries.

On the other hand, it is not totally unreasonable to ask the student's parents to make some kind of contribution. At very least, it makes them value the course more.

So between the two extremes, politicians have to set the slider to determine which proportion will come from general taxation, and which from the individual student. So it is not too difficult. Negotiators can take a vote on the number ratios (50/50, 70/30, 90/10 &c) and then decide how to implement the agreed numbers.

For starters, I would suggest leaving it where it is, pretty much.

In this debate, we must remember ALL young people, including those who choose not to go to Uni. It is in the interests of the students to start addressing their situation, because the apprentices &c are beginning to grumble.

Hope this helps.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Doc

While I agree that education should be free for all and paid for out of direct taxation, I am not sure about the fact that we all benefit from SOME degrees. A minority of the degrees now on offer seem to be very narrow in scope and only serve to help further someone's employment potential in that field rather than producing someone who contributes long-term to the 'good' of society.

Perhaps a few of these degrees should have more of a contribution from the employer or even the student? Although I wouldn't mind too much anyway as these people will still be paying tax over their working lives presumably helped by their qualification?

Anon 42