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?

Advertisements

On Student fees (from Mark Harrison’s Blog)

From Mark Harrison’s blog – Student Fees: Four Myths and a Certainty

Professor Mark Harrison (economist) offers an intelligent, well-argued, timely and rather pithy contribution to the fees debate:

Student fees are in the news again. These are the top-up fees paid by British and EU students to take degree courses at British universities, presently capped at £3,225 a year. They're called “top-ups” because they help to bridge the gap between the public money that goes to universities and the actual cost of degree programmes — which is considerably more. So, should our universities be allowed to raise their fees? The government has announced a review. The lobbies are brushing up their arguments. Everyone has their opinions about the justice or injustice of student fees. As it turns out, fairness and economics are closely connected, but not always in the way that the lobbies think.

He observes that low (or no) fees benefit primarily the middle-classes:

Hundreds of thousands of middle class families know they can benefit to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds from no fees or low fees for their children. In contrast, the gain to society from higher fees will be spread more thinly over millions of citizens, none of whom may feel confident of reaping a personal gain — particularly if they have children that may become students in due course.

It’s going to be an interesting review.

via Mark Harrison’s blog, University of Warwick.