Is There a Higher Education Policy?

Does the Government actually have a coherent policy on Higher Education, or is my perception – that the “policy” is in fact a random series of poorly thought out initiatives – correct?

We are told that education is the key to the “knowledge economy”, yada, yada, yada. Then they decide that Universities should be run as businesses – so they offer courses that make them the most money; the market is king, dontchaknow? Result includes lots of media studies degrees and even a “Bachelor of Science” in Homeopathy (I kid you not!) offered by one of the new universities.

Now one can say a lot about media studies but at least students on such courses are studying modern culture, something real. But homeopathy, FFS? Why don’t they offer degrees in astrology or voodoo while they’re about it?

The Government says it wants 50% of school-leavers to go on to Higher Education. They then go and make getting a degree financially arduous by making the students pay full fees and requiring students to take out loans to pay said fees, other course costs and their living expenses.

When I, and indeed most members of the Cabinet, went through HE we got grants to fund basic living expenses and our fees were paid by our LEAs. The Government claims that the country can’t afford it now. What crap.

Have they forgotten their own spiel about the “knowledge economy”? Surely pay for Higher Education would be an investment?

The Scots seem to think they can afford it.

If the country is so hard up, how come billions are being spent on the invasion and occupation of Iraq, not to mention £24billion to £60billion bailing out Northern Rock?

It’s also rank hypocrisy. THEY got a free education. Why should our children not do so?

And the loans themselves. Interest is payable on them. The interest is tagged to the rate of inflation. Trouble is, there are two inflation rates; one is calculated taking the cost of mortgages into account and the other ignores mortgages. So the annual inflation rate is either 2% or 4.5%.

When the Government is cosidering public sector pay, they use the lower figure. When the interest on a student loan is being calculated, the higher figure is used.

So if you are a graduate earning £25,000 p.a. with a £10,000 student loan to pay off, when the Government is calculating how much pay rise you should have, inflation is 2% and to avoid inflationary pressure you get 1.9%. After deductions, this is about £330 per year extra. When the loan company is calculating your interest, inflation suddenly becomes 4.5% and so your debt increases by £450, so you actually have £120 per year less than you did last year. For this you studied for three years?

But look on the bright side. At least you don’t have a mortgage to pay – the cheapest flat is ten times your salary.


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One Response to “Is There a Higher Education Policy?”

  1. brianthesecond Says:

    The chief objective of the government is to make sure everyone has a ‘degree’, to conceal the fact that they haven’t learned anything at school. Degrees in Media Studies and Homeopathy have the added merit that you don’t have to learn anything at University either.

    Of course we can’t afford all this; losing three year’s productive work from half the population would be expensive enough without adding grants to the top. And all for a qualification that is in many cases entirely valueless.

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