QUOTE(tamsin @ Dec 11 2010, 05:15 PM)
I don't disagree that something has to give to help fund higher education, I just feel that the way it has been done will do exactly what it should do least - put people off studying science, medicine, maths or engineering; especially those who are most poor. Its also tragic that it predominantly benefits the elite universities, and will unfairly penalise those that take most students from less wealthy backgrounds.
I also think its shocking that such a huge rise in the cost of a degree for students won't be matched by any improvements in the services provided. Because such a vast amount has been cut from the teaching budget (its the same amount as we've just given to Ireland to assist in resolving their financial crisis, consequently - somehow that money got found, but preserving teaching subsidies for universities was just too much...) even after these changes, universities will still be worse funded. At the end of the day, the only reason university management support these changes is because they have to replace the amounts that have been hacked out of their budgets from somewhere, and the students are the easy targets.
When I left school in the early 1970's only those who wanted to study medicine, law, engineering, theology, music, chemistry or other 'academic' subjects went on to university. The remainder studied for degrees or other qualifications on day release at Technical College, (which we or our employers paid for), whilst working in paid employment the other three days of the week. This did us no harm at all. There were also apprenticeships in those days, and again, apprentices would study their subjects at Technical College. Crucially, the cost of funding this further education for a comparatively small number of students was probably insignificant when compared with the benefits to the nation, so everybody was happy.
The problems started when Polytechnics become universities, and successive governments obsessed about sending more and more school leavers to university, regardless of whether it benefited their career prospects, or the country as a whole.
Unfortunately, not all school leavers are 'graduate material', (that is not a negative reflection on those concerned); so a variety of newfangled degree courses were invented to cater for those who wanted a degree, but didn't' want to study classical degree subjects. Whilst subjects such as medicine, engineering, theology,
, music and chemistry may benefit the nation, many of the newer subjects do not, but they still cost, and somebody has to pay for them!
In an ideal world I agree that it would be wonderful if all education was 'free', along with unlimited 'free' social care, health care, welfare, housing benefit, and everything else that our society takes for granted nowadays. Unfortunately nothing is 'free', and those of us in the private sector who actually have to pay for these ever growing public services are finding that we no longer have the wherewithal to look after ourselves - and until May this year nobody was interested in our plight!
I have paid into pension funds all of my working life, but realistically I doubt that I will never be able to retire. One of the reasons is that Gordon Brown, when Chancellor raided, pension funds so that he could employ around a million extra public servants, who we now have to pay for. Worse still, not so long ago, these people threatened to strike for their right to retire at 50 on a full, index linked pension, whilst many of those who are paying for them are unlikely to be able to retire ? ever! What is fair about that?
If we accept that 'somebody' has to pay for our education, I would say the new, proposed system is as fair as it gets, and as I understand it, is modelled on a similar system which has worked well in Australia for many years. I should also point out that the review of university funding was commissioned by Labour whilst still in power, but they are now trying to distance themselves form the report's findings.
Education is all about studying: and I would suggest that if those concerned were to study the detail in these proposals, rather than rioting and damaging property, they might realise that what is proposed is actually fairer to 'everyone' than the old system, and will actually help those with limited means.
Regarding the crisis in Eire, the money provided by the British government is a loan, which will be repaid in full, with interest. Likewise, the money lent to the banks in this country will be repaid with interest. The money given to universities is not a loan, and will never be returned.