I don’t profess to be the foremost expert on all things UK Government budget. Still, I feel like I have to comment on yesterday’s announcements regarding support for higher education tuition in the UK.
In a nutshell, tuition for higher education will be allowed to float free, and, loans to students will shift to a longer payback period. There’s more to it than that. It claims to be “fair” because the loan repayment will be graduated and progressive. That is, if you make a lot you pay more, if you make very little you might not have to pay it back at all. And…if you pay it back early you might incur a penalty!
To use an old phrase where appropriate — it’s penny smart, pound foolish.
Can you imagine paying back your college loan over 30 years? Something is very wrong with this picture. Talk about a disincentive for higher education. It’s crazy in my view. Less students will go on to higher education, or, they’ll move to a country with more opportunities.
Innovation requires a workforce that has a clue. Actually it requires, in all the important technological industries, quite a big clue. Creating high value new products starts with knowing something, it’s just that simple. This policy is anti-innovation in the extreme.
Have they heard how many engineers are being graduated in India these days? Good on India — but the UK should be doing its best to graduate its best and brightest as well. This is not how!
I’m all for fiscal conservatism and free markets. I’ll credit David Cameron and his Conservative Party with living up to their principles, they are looking at everything and cutting like mad. It’s a start towards a less invasive government. Perhaps, and this is a big IF, new schools will appear in the market to cater to young people on a budget. This could happen.
And yet, I doubt it will.
The UK educational market is so intertwined with government support that this one bit of free market thrown in is not going to change the dynamic. The UK is not a cheap place to live. The idea of a student making enough money on their own to pay for school as-they-go is a pipe dream. These new loan structures are onerous. Penalties for early repayment? That’s not Free Market!
So, without belaboring the point further, this is something that should be reconsidered. Why not cut military budgets more drastically? And, stay out of wars? Your innovative future depends on a more creative solution to the cost of higher education.