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Best wishes to our childrenin their continuing struggle agains CamClegg's iniquitous tuition fees

33 replies

dotnet · 09/11/2011 12:11

When something bad is done to you you have to fight against it. So I say well done and Good Luck to the students, sixth formers and others taking part in the demonstration today against the impending iniquitous tuition fees at English universities.
We already know, now, that applicant numbers have dropped by nine per cent in the case of sixth formers looking to enter university in 2012, and by a whopping 24 per cent in the case of would be mature students looking to retrain. It doesn't take much imagination to understand that a possible fifty thousand pound debt (tuition and living costs) if you have no financial backing - is an unbearable thought for many. Plus, there'll be compound interest rolling up, to add to the toxic mix.
And Rubber Boy Cameron's blandishments that there'll be nothing to pay until an ex student's wages reach twenty one thousand pounds - are these not just words? What is to stop him from failing to uprate thetwenty one thousand figure - meaning that, in the future, increasingly impecunious ex-students would find themselves dragged into the mire of unaffordable debt with no redress?
CamClegg, it seems, is happy for people of his own class and background to benefit from a good higher education, but less than keen on opportunity for all. Democracy, he seems to think, is fine - as long as the people don't USE their voice to protest against unjust government.
On Radio Four this morning Cameron said the possible use of rubber bullets by the police against our children at the demonstration today, was a matter for the police, not the government!
Cameron: rubber bullets, rubber man, rubber conscience.
Good luck to our students. i hope you all keep safe and I truly hope and believe that equitable higher education in England will come back when this givernment is nothing but a bad memory.

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Sevenfold · 09/11/2011 12:13

yes lets hope they stay within the law this time and don't cause chaos and destroy property

niceguy2 · 09/11/2011 12:40

My youngest sister is due to start uni next year and as a parent of a child who will be going to uni in a few years, I have to admit I am very upset at the scale of the fees hike. In fact, it was one of the policies of the lib dems which prior to the election had me seriously thinking of switching my allegiance. Obviously now I'm glad I didn't.

But that said fees increases were practically unavoidable given the sheer numbers of students who were now studying. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that more students want to study but at the same time, money doesn't simply magic out of thin air. We either put taxes up for others, cut spending elsewhere or borrow the money to fund higher education. Which will it be?

The other thing to remember as well is that a drop in student numbers may not be a bad thing right now. Once upon a time you could graduate with a history degree and it would be sufficient to get you into a graduate track job with a blue chip company. Nowadays the only thing you'll be saying with your degree in "David Beckham studies" is "Would you like fries with that?"

Our economy is also failing to generate enough skilled jobs to absorb all these graduates. So those who think a degree is a guarantee to a good career are finding out the hard way that it's not. We're simply not competitive enough compared to our competition. If you want top level electronics/engineering jobs, you'd be looking at Asia. If you want skilled accountants, HR adviser's, even multilingual call centre staff, you'd look towards India, Egypt, Phillipines. There you'd get a degree educated person at a third of the cost of in the UK.

So yes, it's shitty for our kids. But this has been a long time coming and it's unfair to blame the current coalition for something when New Labour raised expectations without the ability to deliver.

bobthebuddha · 09/11/2011 13:54

I don't agree with the tuition fees at all, but please, let's not forget who introduced the bloody things in the first place, & increased the cap threefold during their time in government. Neither the Tories nor the Lib-Dems. That leaves us with...Labour. Somehow this always seems to be forgotten.

Solopower · 09/11/2011 18:36

Yes, good luck to the students, Dotnet.

I am really sorry that a university education is now seen by so many people as just something else you can buy. Unis have become businesses that have to be run like any other business, but for the benefit of whom? Certainly not the students.

Well they are going to price themselves out of existence, but thank goodness for the internet. We can all teach ourselves now. Soon, very soon, we'll be able to do online degrees - like the Open University in that you study in your own time (or you enrol in a tutorial college), but unlike the OU in that you don't have to buy a course, you'll just submit the coursework and put yourself in for the exam when you think you are ready.

But there will be even more competition for jobs, more young people on the streets and fewer people to do the most important highly skilled jobs.

Except of course, as NiceGuy says, other countries still take education very seriously indeed. So at least there will be enough Chinese doctors and Indian lawyers to look after us ...

newwave · 09/11/2011 21:10

The Tories are deliberately trying to price the less well off in our society out of universities, they want a version of Brideshead Revisited where the hoi poloi new their place.

dotnet · 10/11/2011 09:13

NiceGuy2 - really sorry about your worries on behalf of your youngest sister and also about the child who might be going to university in a few years' time. I suppose you are squirrelling away what you can, to try and reduce the amount of debt s/he will incur for getting an education. I take it s/he will be labouring under a burden of debt in the future while her/his sibling/s got off more lightly.
I have Scottish relatives, and feel aggrieved that English people are being 'victimised' by our English governent.
What hasn't been mentioned in this thread yet, is (something I read) that the £9,000 a year fees most universities have decided they 'need' to charge, was a shot in the foot by the government. The fees will not be a source of revenue, but an additional source of government debt. I ought to have poked about in the internet to refresh my memory on why this is, but I think it's because forty per cent of the debts incurred for their education by ex-students is projected never to be paid off. So it will have to be written off. No profit. And all those bundles of £9,000 in loans thousands of students will be applying for each year - the government has to pay the universities the money upfront, doesn't it? And the £9,000 maximum seems to have been an insane figure plucked out of the air, but of course most universities would say they need that amount per course - because if they said they didn't , it might make them look somewhat downmarket!
The ConDems must be clutching at the straw of hope which has been in the news in the last couple of days - that twenty seven of the universities which had claimed they 'needed' to charge £9,000 for their courses, now are saying they can get by with charging less, in exchange for funding to open up new courses or take in additional students or something.

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dreamingofsun · 10/11/2011 09:15

another supporter of the students who agrees that such a massive rise in fees is unfair. To leave uni with 50k+ worth of debt is just unacceptable and politicians can call it whatever they like but thats what it is debt.

and for anyone saying it just affects the poor it doesn't. Children of middle earners will also be badly affected. Only ones that won't be are those earning less than 21k and you have to question what value a degrees given them and why they've used up public money doing it.

CogitoErgoSometimes · 10/11/2011 10:59

40% of the current scheme won't be paid off but that's still better, in the long-run, than 100% of it being entirely financed by the Treasury. I was lucky enough to go to uni when the fees were free but we still had to find our living costs and there were no loans at attractive rates... all done on expensive old overdrafts. Many students did nothing for the full 3 or 4 years because free education means no incentive to put in extra effort or find that well-paid job. Rich kids have always been able to call up the bank of mum and dad for top-ups whereas us working class oiks had to get jobs etc. If we still only had 10% of school leavers going to uni, maybe we could afford to pay for more of them. Now it's 40%+

The advantage of the later pay-back is that it is effectively a tax on graduates. If the fees mean more think hard about their future earnings potential rather than just bumbling into any old degree with no motivation and no game-plan beyond 'putting off having to work for a living' then it's probably a good thing

Itsjustafleshwound · 10/11/2011 11:14

I just feel that further study has to be incentivised - and there is nothing like the prospect of debt to make a student revalue studying - it is the culture of 'learn to earn' creeping into the UK and it is long overdue.

There are no spaces or opportunities for too many graduates. Why do we insist that everyone must have some university degree. It would be great if the cash used would be earmarked to make sure that there were alternative apprenticeships and career choices open to everybody.

It is not about exclusivity - it is more the fact that spending 4 years behind a university desk gaining NO appreciable or practical skills doesn't help.

Ryoko · 10/11/2011 11:43

Stuff the students.

There are far too many students in this country, the whole idea that 50% of young people should have a degree was balls from the start, allowing polytechnics to become universities was balls from the start, the capitalist system is one of supply and demand, the majority of students are shameless capitalist, only interested in increasing their own wealth with promises of walking into 30k a year jobs when they leave uni, as such if they are to benefit via higher wages why the hell should the poor uneducated hard working people of this country subsidise their education?.

But for the majority the 30k+ job a dream, the encouragement of people to go into further education has meant that supply far outstrips demand, wages and opportunities diminish with the increasing numbers of uni students, for the most part the encouragement of the young to go into further education is a ploy from the government to keep the numbers of unemployed youths at The Job Centre down, it all so has had a detrimental effect on skilled trades with the lack of investment in apprenticeships and lack of universities teaching useful job skills, such as welding and video games programming, the games industry, has been crying for years that the youth in this country simply do not have the skills for the jobs.

niceguy2 · 10/11/2011 11:50

Thanks dotnet. I doubt I'll be able to save anything meaningful in time for my daughter going to Uni.

I think the coalition (specifically the lib dems) completely ballsed up the way they introduced the new changes but like I said earlier, increased fees were almost inevitable no matter who was in charge.

The important thing to note though is not the overall size of debt but the way it's paid back. The way some people are carrying on it's as if you get the £50k debt in one lump sum. You don't. Repayments are linked to how much you earn. Certainly for lower earners they pay nothing. If you are around the level where you must repay, you actually pay LESS than you would now.

And as Cogito has pointed out, many people will simply find their debts wiped.

It will be a real shame for those kids like mine who've missed out on an education we took for granted but if you look abroad to other nations, most already are used to having to pay. I remember watching CNN reporting the first student riots and one comment from a "pundit" was that most American's would love the chance to pay so little for a Uni (college) education.

reallytired · 10/11/2011 11:54

I feel that we need to encourage part time or evening study or appenticeships rather than full time uni study. People need to update their skills constantly through out life.

I think is really sad that opportunities like apprenticeships are restricted to the under 25s. That is complete ageism and means that people who are in their forties or fifties who need to make a career change are trapped.

I hope the system has a chance to bed down. I find shocking the level of fees that are charged for some courses. I would like the unis to have some financial penalty when 80% of Mickey Mouse studies graduates faill to get a 21K job within 5 years of graduation.

Unis need to be made to take some of the risk, rather than the tax payer. At the moment it is in the interest of the unis to get as many bums on seats as possible.

dreamingofsun · 10/11/2011 11:55

part of what i dislike is the uncertainty which makes it difficult to make decisions and plan. ie you don't know what sort of job you will get when you graduate so don't know how much you will have to pay back. And you also don't know how the government will change the goalposts once you graduate and in future years...so interest rates and payback criteria could be changed

Ryoko · 10/11/2011 12:10

You know what lets stick it as a petition pole on that government website, restricting apprenticeship scheme to the under 25's is in deed ageism, why shouldn't a 40 odd year old plasterer get an apprenticeship as a plumber for example, the two go hand in hand.

why shouldn't a 35 year old sales assistant, do a weekend apprenticeship in a florist, with a view to starting a business from home.

I'm going to make the partition now infact

Ryoko · 10/11/2011 12:19

Right a bit of digging has found that you can get an apprenticeship if you are over 25, but the majority of employers are not that interested in providing it, at the last count there was 50,000 places for the over 25 in england and whales, the scheme was rolled out by mr Brown with an initial number of 450 places, but it proved extremely popular with more applicants then for the under 25's scheme, found was cut back in recent years, but this year was increased.

Ryoko · 10/11/2011 12:20

Funding was cut back in recent years I mean not found was cut back.

dotnet · 10/11/2011 12:37

The uncertainty is a nightmare, that's for sure, dreamingofsun.
Going off topic for a moment, wouldn't it be the right thing if politicians who lie on a gigantic scale (thinking of Clegg, Cable, Norman Lamb etc here - all those LibDems who lied through their teeth when they made their promise to the students) - wouldn't it be right and just if they were prosecuted - sort of impeached - and sentenced to a term in prison? What they did was such a serious deceit, it skewed the election results. And leading on from that, given the skewing of the election results because of the Great Lie, a second general election should have been called. The result of the first, is invalid.
Back to the way things are now...
I agree that apprenticeships should be open to anyone, no matter what their age. I don't agree with Ryoko that the majority of students are shameless capitalists only intent on feathering their own nests. The students who've been turning up on the demos to date, for example - most of them - are altruists. The absurd hike in fees won't affect them (unless the forthcoming system is in place when their own children grow up, of course.)

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CogitoErgoSometimes · 10/11/2011 14:04

Anyone who thought the LibDems would win the election with a comfortable majority and be able to enact any of their sillier promises should be prosecuted... for being a bit thick. The LDs have campaigned long and hard for PR and this is the reality of it. Compromise all the way and no-one able to be held to any promises because they're not in overall control..... comfy. So wake up and smell the coffee. When the party making the fanciest promises polls the fewest votes, those fancy promises will never see the light of day... Hmm

niceguy2 · 10/11/2011 15:33

I think that was the problem with the Lib Dems. They didnt really expect to get into power so their promises just had to sound good whilst not too outlandish.

Then when they got into power they realised they couldn't deliver. The thing is though that they could have under the coalition agreement simply abstained. What I think most people find unforgivable is that they not only broke their manifesto promise, but they actually went completely the other way!

dotnet · 10/11/2011 15:42

But Cogito, the fact is, the LibDems got votes as they always do; they're the third biggest party. It's not fair to suggest that people who voted for them are just plain nutcases because they should have known their promises would be a pack of lies! If Charles Kennedy had still been the LibDem leader, I'd bet my bottom dollar he would not have sold out the way Nick Clegg did.
I know there's no possibility at all that the 'culprit' LibDems will be taken to court, tried and sentenced for effectively skewing - screwing up - the last General Election. But what they did is not so very different really from the more obviously criminal act of menacing people into voting one way, as happens in some third world countries.
That's not a very apposite analogy, but the effect was the same. The LibDems got a significant proportion of their votes by misrepresenting their policies. That was a criminal act, in my view.

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dotnet · 10/11/2011 15:44

... and Cogito, why was the promise to the students 'fanciest policy'?
Alex Salmond is doing what he said he would for his Scottish students, so far.

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adamschic · 10/11/2011 15:48

A legal challenge was heard on the 1st and 2nd November over the increase in fees. I won't hold my breath that it will be deemed illegal somehow but well done for bringing it.

startail · 10/11/2011 16:01

I graduated in 1991 and I finished my degree with exactly £0. Loans came in just as I left.
I got married between my second and third year at uni. and DH(who is 3 years older) and I were able to start married life not owing a penny. (We do not come from rich homes, but had lived carefully on standard grants).
I feel so lucky not to have entered adult life in debt and feel that the way students are treated today is wrong.

dotnet · 10/11/2011 16:03

adamschic - by whom was the legal challenge made on 1st and 2nd November? I think one is still in the pipeline - by the two seventeen year olds under the Human Rights Act, on the grounds that 'forcing' substantial debt on children wanting to go on to higher studies is effectively denying them the right to education.
I'm not hopeful about that challenge, really. But the tuition fees decision has created such a festering wound, it won't heal until big changes for the better are made. It's always a pleasure to hear someone is bringing this big problem back into the limelight. Yes, well done!

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dotnet · 10/11/2011 16:10

Oh - adamschic, I've just realised I was talking about the same challenge you were, I think I was.
startail, I had a grant as well, in the 1970s, and I didn't leave college owing anybody anything. That's why her dad and I have been busting our guts to get dd through her degree course in the same state - debtless. There's absolutely no way we'd have been able to do that, no matter how hard we tried, if she had been two and a half years younger, planning to start university next year.

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