Student fees and grants
Article about student fees and grants

Students at university have had to pay fees for the last four years, and loans have replaced the old student grant. ….

All three political parties accepted before the 1997 election that students would have to contribute more to the cost of higher education. ….

However, although David Blunkett introduced annual fees of up to £1,000, he confined them to the children of middle and higher income earners, but replaced the remaining grant with repayable loans, now worth up to £3,815 a year (£4,700 in London).
Diana Warwick, chief executive of Universities UK, representing vice-chancellors, explains: 'Graduates earn 76 per cent more than non-graduates in the same age range….'

Dr Wendy Platt, of the Institute of Public Policy Reform think-tank, says: '… Students reap rewards from studying at universities with a world-class reputation. It is not unreasonable to ask them to contribute more towards maintaining that academic excellence…'

While fees and loans seem to be here to stay, two linked changes may be introduced. Graduates currently pay back interest-free loans when they earn more than £10,00 a year.

Repayments could be linked to their income. In future, they could have to pay interest, too, increasing debts currently averaging £12,000.

(taken from article entitled 'Grants: Are we paying too high a price', by Conor Ryan in Daily Mail of 16 April 2002.)

This is the progression of 'free education'. At first you have a product determined by market forces; there is an 'education' which people are paying for if they are able (and think it sufficiently advantageous). Then a few scholarships are provided so that the most able can have the same sort of education as is wanted by those who can pay for it. Then it becomes 'unfair' that only those who can benefit from it should have it, so everyone must be able to have it without paying for it (or rather someone else must be forced to pay in taxation for everyone to have it) and the 'education' provided becomes, not what anyone would pay for, but what those who are appointed as agents of the prevailing ideology wish to purvey to their captive victims. Then it is considered desirable that the 'education' provided should be of a kind which will minimise differences of attainment resulting from differential ability, so we arrive at something that conveys very little in the way of skills or information, but a massive quantity of psychological demoralisation and ideological brainwashing.

Finally, it becomes too expensive to provide this for everyone, so those who are considered able to pay are forced to pay for it, although what they are receiving is still determined by the providers.

What a terrible thing, after spending so many years exposed to a system over which one had no control, and which may have been not only worthless but a negative experience one would have much preferred not to undergo, one should then have one's earnings curtailed as if what one had been subjected to had a market value.

This would certainly have made my position even worse at the end of my ruined education, when I was thrown out with no usable qualification and no access to an academic career, which was the only sort I could have. With no tolerable way of earning money, I was forced to attempt to build up capital with which to provide myself with the equivalent of an academic salary and environment. It would have been terrible if I had been forced to pay out of any pathetic earnings which I could muster from unsuitable occupations, for the years of maltreatment which had reduced me to such a pass, as if they had been of positive rather than negative value.

Even if it is true that graduates earn 76% more than non-graduates in the same age range, this is a purely statistical statement and is certainly not true of those who, like me, are left without any usable qualification with which to enter a suitable career. And is this statistical figure based on the population of all graduates versus all non-graduates, or only of employed graduates versus all non-graduates or all employed non-graduates?

The observation by Dr Wendy Platt is wicked and absurd, and shows what happens when it is left to the provider to value his own wares independently of direct purchase. 'Students reap rewards from studying at universities with a world-class reputation ...' - why on earth should something be regarded as rewarding because it happens in a large and well-known institution run under the auspices of a socialist state? Nobody is paying directly for what goes on in it, and its assertions of its own status as an arbiter of quality are on much the same footing as those of a fiat currency, which has abandoned the backing of a gold standard. A central bank declares that a certain piece of paper is worth a dollar or a yen, but there is no guarantee of what a dollar or yen will buy.