Friday, 10 July 2009

It's a wee shame on England's students

There was a tale in the Times about proposals in England to offer free education to potential students who agree to forego any public support for the duration of their studies. Assuming that the story is correct (a big assumption these days), it's not good news for English education - it drives access towards the ability to pay rather than the ability to learn. Those who are already wealthy would still be able to choose where to go to university while the less affluent may be forced to stay in the parental home and study at a nearby institution - whether or not that institution offers the course which the student wants and, presumably, which the student may show most ability in. There is the other take on it,of course, that the wealthiest students may be able to attend university without having to pay fees because they can afford to support themselves during the course while poorer students will find themselves up to their necks in debt.

We already know that English education is suffering massive underinvestment, university principals now looking for a lift in the tuition fees they can charge while Peter Mandelson finds himself searching for £90 million to plug the gap for this year.

Students in England will get up to £3,290 per year in loans for paying tuition fees from next year (in spite of fees being capped at £3,225) and up to £4,950 in maintenance loans - £8,240 a year over a three year course comes to £24,720 plus interest - there's a weight to be carrying as you look for your first real job, eh?

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