Thursday, 9 December 2010

Tuition Fees

It's decision day for the coalition's tuition fees proposals, and the Liberal Democrats in particular are under pressure, as many of their MPs pledged to oppose any increases in the fees during the election campaign. A dozen MPs are expected to rebel, and several others (including Lib Dem Deputy Leader Simon Hughes) will abstain, but at present this does not seem sufficient to overturn the motion. There is a good overview of the tuition fees debate on this BBC page, and please let us know your opinions on the issue!

UPDATE: What a day! The motion was (just) carried with a majority of 21 votes. 21 Liberal Democrat MPs voted against it and 8 abstained. 6 Conservative MPs also voted against it. 28 Lib Dem MPS voted for the plans. The protests and in particular the attack on Charleshave of course overshadowed this. This Daily Mail article has plenty of dramatic photos. Michael White in the Guardian has some good points to make about how the violence has become the main focus for the media. Benedict Brogan in the Telegraph comments on how Cameron and Clegg are handling the crisis, and here is the New York Times' view to put things into perspective. What are your views?


  1. I believe that the the government were right to raise the cap on university fees to £9000, as without it many universities would likely close down due to lack of funding. Also, students don't have to pay the fees upfront, meaning that everyone is in the same position after they've graduated, and paying less back per month than they would under the system introduced by the previous Labour government. I also hope that some universities (those not in the russell group perhaps) will not take this opportunity to raise fees for all courses to £9000, as it would be unfair to those who still wanted to go to university and not be in so much debt when they leave, or want a more modest paid career such as a nurse.

    However, i do feel that the Liberal Democrats have betrayed the majority of their supporters (if they hadn't already done so by joining a Conservative coalition) by voting for the rise in fees. This will cost them dearly at the next election, and as its more than likely that their supporters will turn to support the labour party (or perhaps not even vote at all) this could mean an end to Conservatives in power :(

  2. I think the rise was needed, but probably not at such a high rate. The government needed to come up with a scheme that gave universities more money, they have no money at the moment. However, in voting for this, Lib Dems have lost a lot of followers, they have definitely made the wrong decision as far as their supporters are concerned.

  3. I know everyone hates the LibDems now, but to be honest, no one really knew how bad the debt was during the run up to the general election. At the time that they made the pledge, they probably thought that enough cuts could be made to help pay back the debt without having a rise in tuition fees. The conservatives had to go back on their promises about child benefits. I think it was just the fact that the LibDems made an actual pledge that was a bit of a stupid thing to do. But they shall now pay the price for their mistakes, I feel a bit sorry for the backbench LibDems, who probably just signed the pledge because Clegg told them to.

    Also the rise in tuition fees is completely justified, and a lot of the people rioting about it, don't really know what is going on. Maybe it shouldn't be quite as high, but really I can't judge this, as the MPs have all the figures and think that this would be a good value to have it at, and they must have their reasons for thinking this.

  4. At the end of the day, the current UK debt is at £4.8 trillion (and rising) so it was inevitable that the government would have to make a lot of cuts. However, I believe the fees have risen WAY too much. Paying an excess £7000 or more a year for university is ridiculuous, and the governemt doesnt seem to have taken into consideration living costs which would make the debt even bigger. David Cameron is trying to make things seem better by saying that the monthly fee paid back will be less than before, but who wants to still be paying back their student debt 20 years later?

    Even though graduates dont pay anything until they earn £20,000+, it wont supress people's anger because its tough to get a job anyway. It looks like the government will end up paying for thousands of people's debts in around 25 years time, because quite frankly the majority of people wont be able to pay it all off in time.

  5. I think we needed to do something about the universities, because they were generating a huge amount of debt.

    However, I think that tripling tuition fees isn't the answer - I know we won't be paying it back until we're earning £21,000 a year, but, really, it's incredibly hard to get a job at the minute. Also, living on £21,00 a year - whilst paying your rent, and paying off all your living costs from uni - is going to be pretty difficult. I think a graduate tax would be a lot better.

    Also, I agree with the last commenter - I think that a lot of people will either not be able to pay of their debt, or they'll find ways around paying it, and eventually, the government will end up paying even more.

  6. I'm largely supportive of tuition fees in general, but totally against the rise, and I feel insulted on the behalf of the thousands of demonstrates when the government try to suggest that people travelled down from as far as Aberdeen on a misconception.

    Perhaps the worst thing about the proposed changes is how some universities will be able to charge £9000 a year in tuition. Consider which universities will be able to do this; it'll be universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Imperial, LSE and Bristol; universities who will always, no matter how much they charge, have students willing to give an arm and a leg to get a place. Less popular and less prestigious universities will simply not be able to charge as much, as otherwise they would put off people from applying. Is it really Oxbridge, with their large numbers of wealthy and generous alumni who need extra money coming in from tuition? Or is it the universities lower down the league tables who could do with the extra funding? The reforms add the cost factor to a student's decision, and no matter how much the government try and underplay it, for students from less well off backgrounds and those who are the first in their families to go to university, the thought of being in that much debt is psychologically very off putting. This will do nothing to increase access to the best institutions for the less well off. It risks making it worse.

  7. I believe that our government and our leader David Cameron were fully justified in proposing and voting for the tuition bill. I think that the tuition bill was successful as it should have been and it will return certain elitism into the British educational system. Hopefully people who are studying for degrees that you do not or should not need a degree in (something as ridiculous as events management) I mean, is it really necessary to go to university to learn how to call venues and ask them if you can hold your event in their establishment, I think not.

    Additionally, I think that even though the students are well within their right s for protesting and demonstrating, I don't actually think that they should be complaining as much as they are. Firstly, a large majority of them are not actually aware that they do not have to pay their university fees at the end of the year, I think that the students need to make sure that they are fully aware of all of the factors that have been implemented by the government, because I'm sure a lot of people do not realise that they would be paying 85% less per month, although you have to pay it for longer and you do have to pay additional, graduate tax. However, let us not forget that you only have to start paying the fees once you have reached a job with your annual salary exceeding £21,000.

  8. I think that tuition fees being raised to such an extent is ridiculous. The universities do need more money, but they should have raised it gradually like they did when tuition fees were first introduced. By raising them so suddenly, they are penalising certain parts of society. I think that the people who will be most affected are the ones who have been out of education for years, who may not have tried at school, who want to go back to university to get a degree to get a better job but already have a lot of debt. If they already have debt, there is no incentive to pay say £18,000 (using the basic rate for a 3 year course) plus interest on top of their debt already.

    I think that Nick Clegg will have a lot of problems in the next election because he has been proved to be a liar. He made a pledge that he would fight a rise in tuition fees and then publicly voted for them. Any pledge he attempts to make in future will not be trusted by the public. Locally, we could see Sutton and Cheam becoming blue for the first time in years. Many people voted LibDem to keep the tories out and then Burstow supported them by voting for the bill, many have been left angered by his decision (as can be seen on the Worcester Park blog). I think the next few years will be a struggle for the LibDems and I think that this will not be forgotten by the next election.

  9. Whilst i agree with several of the people commenting on this blog that the liberal democrats, Nick Clegg in paticular, have proved themselves to be untrustworthy, I do not believe that this is a bad policy.

    Currently, our country is saturated with university graduate students who are unable to find jobs as their degree's are worthless in a society where anyone can obtain one. The rise in university fees will put off lower grade students, enabling the A and B grade students to attend university. I understand that SOME people from poorer backgrounds will be deterred, but the fee's don't have to be paid back until a certain income bracket is reached and with fewer people attending university, the poorer A grade students will have degree's that mean something. They will be able to get the band 1 and 2 jobs that will easily enable them to pay back their fees and loans.

    I know that many people will continue to disagree with me, but this country is in such a time of economic crisis that something needs to be done! We are all going to suffer and without the rise in fee's the universities won't receive enough funding to run. It's either this, or no universities at all. I know what i would choose ...

  10. I believe that certainly there are positives to the significant rise in tuition fees; obviously this will help university fundings which, without the increase in fees i am sure many would suffer considerably, and in many cases universities would close down.

    However, i believe the governments inconsideratation for the way in which the policy has been put across has sparked much of the alarm and anger seen in so many students. Arguably, had it been publisized more with the benefits being made more clearly, the violent protests that have occured may have been on a much smaller scale. Worst of all and easily the most naive move of the government was made by the liberal democrats. Their pledge to vote against tuition fees which has been broken by the majority, was clearly a betrayal to their voters and those who support the party. Nick Clegg will obviously be seen as a liar for the next election and will clearly suffer because of this. As a former liberal democrat supporter i can safely say the way in which the liberal democrats pledge was made and SO clearly broken was just down right ridiculous and tactless

  11. I believe that our Government was right to increase tuition fees in order to allow universities in this country to stay open. If the tuition bill hadn't been passed, it is likely that many universities in the country would eventually have to close down or gradually accept less people due to the lack of funding they would be receiving from the government.
    Although I believe that the tuition fees did not necessarily have to rise by such a considerable extent, I think that protestors are unjustified in behaving in a violent manner due to many not being aware of how and when they would have to pay the money for tuition fees. If the tuition bill had been better explained to the nation, the violence could have been avoided because many people would have realised that the fees are a debt and do not need to be paid up front.
    Overall, the country is still coming out of an economic crisis, therefore the tuition fees need to rise in order for this country to return to being somewhat prosperous.

  12. Although I don't feel that the rise in tuition was perhaps handled in the best possible way - the benefits of this system have not been stressed enough.The media portrayal of the subject has also done the cause no favours, presenting students as mindless and uninformed. I think the the rise is something that needs to happen in order for universities to continue working as well as they do now. The country is essentially still in the midst of an economic crisis and cuts need to come from somewhere; university fees in places like America show that that all classes of people will still benefit from a university education.

    Furthermore, all graduates will be in an equal position once their course is completed, and they will be paying less per month than they currently do. Attempts will still be made by the government to enable students from all walks of life to get a good education, and at the end of the day had these fees not risen, similar changes or cuts would have had to be made elsewhere in order to reduce the country's economic burden.

  13. I strongly disagree with the tuition fee increase, particularly to the extent to which they have been raised. The less affluent members of society will be immediately detered by the thought of substantial debt by the time they reach mid 20s. There is no guarantee of a large salary or even employment at all after graduating and consequently, those who have been raised in a money concious household will be unwilling to take the risk of having a £27,000+ debt to their name with no guaranteed method of repaying it. That debt will merely accumlate interest and get larger. Fewer people from less priveleged backgrounds going to university will merely deepen the divide in society between the rich and the poor.

    Looking at the progress countries such as china are making on an economic and technological scale, the UK are falling behind. We need as many qualified professionals within our work force as we can get and by raising tuition fees to such an extent there will inevitably be less qualified individuals working towards the UK economy.

  14. Earlier someone made the comment ‘who wants to still be paying back their student debt 20 years later?’ This, to me, is central to the whole debate because the fact is that no-one WANTS to have to pay but we ARE in economic crisis so the rise in tuition fees is justified. I am aware that the rise in costs may see many students suffer with long term debt but payment is in fact (as I think mentioned already) 85% less per month and personally I would prefer a good degree and a longer term affordable payment than no degree at all.

    Also, the fact remains that you do not have to pay back a single penny of this money until you are earning over a set amount and if you fail to reach this amount you do not have to pay at all so no-one can say that in their current situation (no matter how rich or poor) that they cannot physically afford to go to university because of the rise.

    I think it a shame the way many students have responded in a selfish and sometimes violent manner as it creates a bad media representation of the whole issue and over-shadows those students who are genuinely passionate and informed on the subject. I believe that most of the rioters are not actually aware of what the whole issue actually entails. People that say that ‘we have to take into account extra living costs’ need to consider that these costs have always been around regardless if whether or not the tuition fees rise.

    At the end of the day what ever approach the government take they are bound to receive criticism and whether we make of fuss or not universities need funding and we cannot simply expect to get higher education for free.

  15. Like most people have already said, I feel that the rise in tuition fees is necessary and inevitable considering the amount of debt we are in, however I feel that the raised price of £9000 is TOO high. I think universities have to be funded one way or another and the government simply cannot afford to contribute what it has been in previous years, but it is too drastic to raise them to the proposed amount.

    I do feel that this could make some potential applicants from the working class reconsider even going to university what so ever, but not simply because the price is increased, but because they do not understand that you will be not paying back until you are earning £21,000 etc. So people who live in families who are stuggling and have seen what its like to be in debt may just straight away think maybe university isnt worth getting into that much debt, because they know all the circumstances. Having said that if you remain on a £21,000 per year income for a while it would be hard to live life comfortably whilst paying huge debts off.

  16. They do not know the circumstances*

  17. for all the frustrated bloggers who want to blow off some steam and have a good chuckle and Nick Cleggs sheer stupidity... feel free

  18. I am very much against the rise in tuition. It's a complete farce if you ask me.
    The reasons why I'm against them are:

    1. Asking students to pay £9,000 a year to go to university will lead to them getting into large amounts of debt. People will say that this is ok, because you will only be paying it back from the moment you begin to earn £21,000, but realistically £21,000 isn't a huge amount of money for someone who will potentially be living alone, comfortably. In addition to this, not only will students have to pay back the £27,000 of tuition fees, they will also have to pay back the estimated £15,000 of living costs which an average student spends in just three years at university. This means that even before they have even got a stable job and a steady income, graduates will already have a debt of £42,000+/- looming over their heads.

    2. If graduates come out of university with £42,000 in debt, it will be harder for them to step onto the property ladder, as they will be put off getting a mortgage (if it is even granted), as it would mean being in even more debt. This means that property prices will plummet because nobody will be buying houses, leading to another recession and economic crisis.

    3. It is unfair for members of the Government (and Parliament) to be asking students to pay £9,000 a year for university when they paid nothing and were even given grants in order to attend university. It is easy for Mr. Cameron and Mr. Clegg to say that paying £9,000 for higher education is reasonable- one attended Eton and the other The Westminster School, both of which charge an average of £10,000 PER TERM, so in their eyes, paying £9,000 a year is nothing, unfortunately, it shows how out of touch they are with the general electorate if they think it feasible that people will be able to afford such costs easily.

    4. Increasing the cost to £9,000 will put the poorest students in society off of going to University. This will create a hugely elitist system where only the middle class and the upper middle class are educated and only a handful of students from a working class background will attend university. This will trap them in a cycle of poverty and keep them in low-paid jobs. Because more people will be in lower paid jobs, there will be more people seeking help from the welfare state in the future in order to help ends meet, which won't be solving a problem in the long run if we want a stable society.

  19. 5. Even though people say that degrees have been devalued because so many people are getting them, we must also remember that degrees lead to jobs in the tertiary sector which has been growing huge in this country due to the decline of primary and secondary jobs. If people aren't getting degrees, it is likely that they will not be able to find jobs in the tertiary sector as they will be under-qualified in comparison to those who go to university, but won't be able to find other jobs, because it is highly unlikely that jobs in primary and secondary sectors will suddenly arise.

    6. China is slowly becoming a bigger power and with their growing economy, more and more people are attending university there, which will ultimately lead to a larger growth in their economy. It doesn't make sense for us to stop our intellectual growth when there is so much competition arising in Asia. The Tories often like to point out that the Labour Government lead to us becoming one of the least educated nations in the EU and I doubt preventing people from going to university will help it very much. In the globalised world which we currently live in, we need members of society who are educated in order to keep Britain as one of the strongest economic powers in the World.

    7. It is true that we are in huge amounts of debt right now (and have been since 1750- National Debt is nothing new and will NEVER go away), but having an uneducated society will not lead us to financial success in the long run. Instead of cutting from the sectors of society where we need investment for long term growth, the Government should be increasing the top rate of tax, corporate tax and inheritance tax. However, they won't do this because it will go against their OWN financial interests. Instead of cutting education, the Government should be cracking down on the super rich who LEGALLY OWE £25BILLION in taxes.

  20. Personally, I think that the rise in tuition fees is justified, as universities are running out of money. If they cannot afford the funding of just the running of the uni, how can they afford to fund us as well?
    At the moment degrees have become really saturated, because a lot of people think approx. £3000 is adequate for higher education. This then allows people to study unnecessary courses, such as Scandinavian languages (which I think is just branching out a little too much), therefore making the meaning of a degree decrease. Then if we want to distinguish ourselves from others in order to achieve more, we have to pay thousands more to complete a master’s course which is just leading to more debt! We could sort this out by just cutting out the people who take the importance of degrees away, which I think by increasing the fees, it does just that. Or if they really want a degree, they will opt for one that makes more sense in today’s world. I know people may say that it is unfair to the disadvantaged societies, but I don’t come from the best of backgrounds and I have come this far, so they can as well. From what I know, universities are still handing out bursaries to those who really need it, so claiming the system will be unjust is not true. After all, this is giving me a better chance of getting a good job; I can’t complain!
    And anyway, it is only at the end of your degree that you start paying back your debt. The government wouldn’t be that greedy and ask you to pay it in lumps that would burn your pocket; they would simply take amounts that you won’t even realise has gone. Furthermore, if you believe you are going to be in a high-earning job (which is the reason most people go to universities), then it shouldn’t be a problem paying off the debt! Plus, the government will only start the payments once you start earning over £21000. This should not be a problem for any of us. So I think everyone who has the ability shouldn’t worry because all that’s going to happen is that our workforce will be stronger as it is full of people who actually wanted a degree, which will strengthen our economy also – who doesn’t want that?!

  21. I think you are all forgetting that our government is in massive amounts of debt, and if they weren't introducing the rise in tuition fees, they would have to find the money to fund higher education from somewhere else. For example, a graduate tax (which i'm sure you would also all love to campaign against) or a rise in taxes in general, or cuts from other areas of the public sector such as the NHS and education. This would likely cause uproar amongst the general public, as those who never went or intend to go to university would be sacrificing the quality of their public services for the sake of students, who realistically make up a small proportion of society.

    The coalition really don't have a choice, they're just trying to fix this horrible mess that the labour goventment got us into by spening and investing in all the wrong areas of society.