Tuition fees: a system that has become so unworkable and so ill conceived that even the Conservative government have taken it upon themselves to ‘review’ its future. As swathes of young people have been inspired by Labour’s plans to scrap tuition fees, restore maintenance grants and return dignity to the higher education domain, the Conservative party had no choice but to acquiesce.
I myself am a pragmatic. I’m engaged in how to make the system work not just for students, but also for taxpayers. Higher Education policy has, and will, remain a Pandora’s box with it being very challenging to come to a compromise between access, affordability, and taxpayer contribution. In response to these challenges, the Conservative government have ushered in a system of complete inadequacy, with ever-increasing fees aligned with inflation and uncapped and unrepresentative interest rates (6.1% this year).
Higher Education is a Pandora's box
For the majority of students, they will never fully repay their loans. In fact, many will see their debt rise faster than they can repay it. The clock starts ticking the minute you step through the higher education door, with the average student accumulating £5000 worth of interest on their loan before they even graduate. This state-owned debt, which rises quicker than most can pay it back, will inevitably be written off, but paid for by whom? Taxpayers. Everybody loses in this Tory game of dice, leaving a generation of students shackled with inexplicable debt and a legacy of failure.
Everybody loses in this Tory game of dice
What do we believe could be achieved with this review? Will it be a reconsideration of the entire system and how it manifests injustice? Or will it be a lethargic disengaged throwback with a few minor changes to keep the current system on life support? My predictions are restored maintenance grants, a reduction on interest rates and an indefinite freeze of tuition fees for the foreseeable future. Any talk of variable rates depending on subject choice or institution would be a major step backwards, resulting in a new legacy of second-class education, akin to grammar schools and comprehensives.
All I can say is that any hope of consciousness or rationality about this review should be discarded. The review will be a lacklustre throw-out to those that believe Labour’s plans are ‘too radical’.