Education policy and tuition fees
I wrote this a little while back because I still get angry over how tuition fee changes are presented. I’ve decided to stick it on this platform.
I completely believe that university tuition should be free, potentially paid for through a graduate tax. The sum of human knowledge is a heritage that belongs to everyone, and access to it is a fundamental right.
Some would argue that ensuring this right might cost too much money, and people might “free-load” instead of work; I would argue that if this is the case then it would simply show that we need to rebalance our economy, because it would mean that work isn’t working.
But that all said, I stand by the (relatively) new system of fees being better than the old one. With the threshold for repayment going from an annual salary of £15k to £21k, graduates on £18k went from repaying their fees to not; poorer graduates keep more of their monthly salary to spend on food, rent, or what they see fit. That strikes me as progressive and liberal — a tuition fees cut in terms of amount repaid each month — which is what people see in terms of their paycheck. I think it is actually completely fair to claim that the coalition cut tuition fee repayments.
Maybe I’m rehashing old ground, but from where I stand, as someone who went to university the year after Labour raised tuition fees to £3000 per year (against their manifesto pledge), I would much prefer to have gone to university under the new system.
So, my problem with education policy is actually not that the fees were increased, but that the vision of the coalition was not large enough. Yes, the new system was better, but not sufficiently better. It didn’t do enough to deliver equality of access to higher education, and our universal heritage that is human knowledge.