Double standards on fees?

“Middle-class students face £7,000 wallop”

Grave anxiety in the Times that middle-class students might have to pay higher contributions post-graduation:

Students from middle-class families may be denied grants and cheap loans and be charged higher tuition fees under a “double whammy” to be considered by a government review of university funding. It could add nearly £7,000 a year to the cost of university for a student from a family with an income of £50,000 a year.

The higher charges are being advocated after Lord Mandelson, the first secretary of state, announced £950m of cuts to higher education. Costs are expected to increase, whoever wins the general election. Lord Browne, the chairman of the government review, has the task of producing more money for universities without extra cost to the taxpayer and is expected to look favourably on cuts to what critics claim are middle-class subsidies.

Pure speculation of course but difficult to feel a huge amount of sympathy for this special pleading, especially in the light of another piece in the same edition of the paper which explains how much middle-class parents are prepared to stump up for extra tuition:

As many as half the children in London have received private tuition as parents become more and more desperate to win places at the best schools, new research has found. The latest edition of the Good Schools Guide has found the recession has had no apparent effect on parents’ willingness to pay between £20- £40 an hour to top up their children’s education.

The boom is being fuelled both by parents’ ambitions for children to win places at the best universities and by a glut of unemployed graduates tutoring part-time while they look for a full-time job. Tuition agencies report growth of 15%-100% last year, with popularity growing quickly in cities such as Birmingham and Manchester as well as in the traditional heartlands of London and the southeast.

Double standards?

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