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Funding Our Future?

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Jun 10 2009 17:45

The National Union of Students have lain down the gauntlet in the Tuition Fees Debate with a blue print for an alternative funding model released today.

Click Here for the Full Article

Jun 10 2009 17:48

This Blog on 'Funding Our Failures' makes an interesting read.

As does the Guardian who are running a poll on 'Fees or Taxes?'.

Jun 10 2009 19:49

The more you try to legislate to make things "fair", the less fair they actually become. The more the government/NUS tries to "redress the balance" (to use NuLabSpeak) the more I feel that the top british universities should privatise and become more like the Ivy League. Charge overseas students top dollar, and work out a system of industrial sponsorship, endowments and alumni donations to provide scholarships for British students on a sliding scale.

However, until top universities make the effort to take their financing into their own hands, we will never achieve a British Ivy League, despite all the noises coming from the blue cube.

Jun 10 2009 20:10

I am interested to know exactly what Ashley means by "fail to use their degrees". Surely one should still be able to go to university simply to learn out of interest rather than for a job at the end. In my opinion, it is quite reasonable for someone to study a subject 'for a laugh', meaning purely for enjoyment.

4. Voter   
Jun 10 2009 20:13

Imperial's response????

We gave up our right to have input on these issues when we left the NUS! It is now up to other universities influence NUS campaigns in there own interest!

Jun 10 2009 20:31

'Imperial's response' is from the Blue Cube. They have no say in whether we are members of the NUS or not. However, institutions like Imperial do have a lot of influence when it comes to policies on Higher Education Funding. It was the 'other side of the coin' to give balance to the article.

Jun 10 2009 20:58

Yes, people should be able to go to university solely for enjoyment of a subject. But should someone else pay for it?

Ideally we'd see universities as enriching our culture, passing on information to future generations AND improving our economy. That isn't even on the table.

If you just get p***ed for 3 or 4 years, then end up back in the same job as before, you've not used your degree. Who should pay for it then?

Being outside the NUS means we can't influence their policies. We should still take a view on what they do - Imperial College will have influence, and we should be involved in a discussion with them. Also, bear in mind that much of the ground work was done while we were paying/voting at conference.

My comment was intended to spark a debate on what I perceive as an unfairness in the system, so thanks for challenging me on it.

Anyone else have thoughts on that point, or the rest of the proposal?

Jun 10 2009 20:59

You are right in that it is reasonable to study purely for enjoyment. However, if you plan to spend three years doing nothing but getting drunk, whilst the taxpayer subsidises you, you should get nothing. Leading on from this, is it right that you should be subsidised to study something purely for your pleasure, whilst other people have to work to pay for it?

Jun 10 2009 21:16

that separates ashley and no.7 from the Philistines is a job in the city... depressing

Jun 10 2009 21:59

OK, let's tackle this from a different angle before someone accuses me of wanting to burn all art or something.

I know of a number of people from my home town who went to university for the *sole* purpose of drinking and sleeping with as many people as possible (and some who also saw it as a good way to get away from their parents). Would you rather fund them, or fund someone wanting to study archaeology to discover more about our collective history? Are you happy to pay more to fund both, or should the archaeologist get more money?

As people have highlighted - including this article - a degree can have more value than simple increase in earnings. So how can you differentiate between the people who abused the system and did nothing DURING their degree, and ones who worked to achieve something (not necessarily financial)?

Maybe it's acceptable to take the hit, in the belief that most people go to university to work.

Many of our students/graduates will end up paying fees of over ?20,000 for a course under this scheme. For the maths to make sense (to cover the real costs of each course, and those earning less), there will be people paying an awful lot more than that. If that's fine, the NUS solution makes a lot of sense.

If that isn't fine, then what's the solution?

Jun 10 2009 22:11

Is it bad that I had to look up what a philistine is?

Jun 10 2009 22:17

What are they actually contributing to our country. F all.

They study art and then tell us, the general public, what we should think of it and in a very arrogant and condescending manner

On the other hand students at Imperial, work their f**king socks off and actually better the country by helping it move forward.

All art students should be shot.

Jun 10 2009 22:27

It is not art students which are the problem. It is people who study politics, political science, meejah, philosophy and the like who go to to "uni" for three years, go on a few NUS marches, flirt with communism but return to the New Labour fold, who then make a career in the public sector at our expense telling us what to think and what to do, because they know best.




Jun 11 2009 01:39

"I know of a number of people from my home town..."

Isn't "London" your home town? :oP

15. John   
Jun 11 2009 01:44

This all sounds very NUSey to me - leftist thinking and not very well thought out policies. Unless it's a decoy proposition designed to spark public debate at a time when universities have just lost major political representation in the latest reshuffle, in which case the timing is completely na?ve. At a time when there are so many more interesting stories flying around, there's absolutely no chance of the future of HE getting the media attention it needs.

Anyway, I do wonder what shifting towards "Americanization" will do for us? Surely this just means implementing the same system that currently operates in secondary education - in 10 years time we may end up with, say, Russell Group universities becoming the equivalent of private schools (or grammars?) and the polytechnics becoming the equivalent of comprehensives. Soon after someone will realise that, given that secondary and HE education work in the same way, it'll be cost effective to blend the two systems into one long educational yellow brick road. But instead of finding ourselves in Emerald City we'll find ourselves with national curricula for all degrees and Imperial will become an extension of Westminster School.

Maybe this is fantastical thinking but what is absolutely guaranteed, given the evolution of HE over the last couple decades, is that HE will not be working in the same way in 10 years time as it does now. So what I truly care about is that these years of blood and sweat all in the name of a coveted Imperial Degree still counts for something. Although I don't care much for financing other people's degrees either, especially if its for their pure entertainment. If anyone complains of being denied cultural or academic enrichment, they would do well to find out where their nearest library is first. The books within will probably give an education far superior to the pathetic con we all ingenuously signed up for at Imperial anyway.

Jun 11 2009 01:44

Imperial should reject this blueprint. It's a zero-sum game that is negative for better universities, esp. the top five universities in this country.

17. Hmm.   
Jun 11 2009 09:43

"private schools (or grammars?)"

But this is an absolutely vital distinction. Private school attendance depends on parental wealth (with maybe two scholarships in a whole school). Grammars (where they still exist as such) are state funded and select on academic ability. Labour want grammars shut down, calling them 'elitist' as if selecting students for an academic education based on academic ability is a terrible thing to do. (Better comprehensives select on postcode, and hence parental wealth, but that's a separate issue). Should the government be funding top-level education for the brightest students or should it be left to the private sector to provide better education for those more able to pay?

Jun 11 2009 10:16

This suggestion is just ridiculous. People go to university to better themselves and I don't see why moderately successful professionals should be thumped with an extra 2.5% in tax just because the polys want to divert money from good universities to bad ones. It also breaks the link between the institution and take power away from fee paying students and put it in the hands of some Soviet type quango that would be pressured by demented leftists into funding mediocrity at the expense of excellence. NUS believe in a comprehensive university system which would be a disaster for this place. So pleased that we are not members.

19. John   
Jun 11 2009 12:28

The grammar/private distinction is indeed a crucial one, but practically it requires a good way of determining who gets in to the grammarversities on what is effectively a government scholarship and who'll have to pay for the full whack of their education. Depending on who sets these rules you'd get different outcomes:

Governmenty types would probably settle for the lazy option of selecting on previous academic merit (maybe introducing an 18+ test?), which is c**p as it discriminates against those from a less privileged background who might thrive in a highly intellectual environment but can't afford large fees in favour of those who are academically clever but possibly lazy or generally incompetent (known anyone like that at Imperial...?);

Blue Cubey types would probably just select those who are most likely to go on and get a good job thus increasing the chance of donating to the college in later life, which is a wonderful way of scuppering scientific progress by increasing the proportion of those at Imperial who couldn't give a damn about what they're studying as long as it leads to some fancy job;

NUSey types would rail against the whole thing claiming that it discriminates against anyone who isn't fortunate enough to get into the grammaversities or able to pay their way;

The NUS would be correct here, and so the only way to fairly do this would be to find a way of determining who, at 18, is most likely to use their degrees to maximum effect and only give the scholarships to those who aren't going to bum around or go on to a job that they could've gotten without a degree. But how would you ever be able to distinguish between the two types of student at 18 without the employing the services of Mystic Meg?

Personally I think that the whole university system is utterly flawed. If someone goes to university to study some subject it should be with the ultimate aim of using that degree. If they're just going to go into some graduate job, with the degree acting merely as some kind of subject-independent "proof that I can knuckle down", then surely there's a more efficient way of doing that in a way that retains the academic rigour, is more orientated to industry, doesn't take 4 years, and doesn't flood the lecture theatres with people who hate their subject. Know anyone like that? What if everyone at Imperial was entirely dedicated to their subject material? Of course that would never happen as Imperial would lose out on all those tasty donations from rich alumni...

20. Hmm.   
Jun 11 2009 17:49

It's always very telling when "governmenty types" themselves start telling universities to allow for the fact that state schools have probably been failing students up to the age of 18... but universities must decide admissions anyway, state-funded or not (although the competition may be more intense without the pre-selection of "Does Daddy have ?30K going spare?")

I would hope admissions tutors already look for enthusiasm for the subject (with due consideration of the advantages held by confident coached private school kids in interviews) as well as just the three As at A'level that everyone has, and it would be nice (if a little naive) to think admissions tutors ould be left to do their job without the Blue Cube directing them to pick out a good proportion of budding baristers and stockbrokers.

Jun 11 2009 18:21

Generally, I feel that the fees should be upfront but means-tested. In other words, everyone pays whatever they can. So, if someone from this country can afford to pay the full fees by themselves they should. On the other hand, if someone can afford nothing, they should pay nothing. There are certainly people at university who are being subsidised by the government unecessarily and who probably should pay more.


I agree that getting a degree simply as a passport to graduate jobs is somewhat of a waste (both of the university's time and their own). Maybe businesses could invent something (or ask universities to create a course perhaps).

@18: Not all people go to university to better themselves. For example, some go for the 'university experience' (whatever that is). There are physicists in my year who are here simply to graduate and go into finance.

@7: Would no one be prepared to create a more intellectual and learned society generally? Is the idea that university 'should' be used simply so as to create a stronger economy, rather than for the improvment of society, better? Do universities then not simply become all about money rather than education?

Jun 11 2009 22:16

In my opinion, a person does not become intellectual and learned by three years of attending lectures and seminars, it takes years of passion and self study for a particular field of the arts. People who study for a few years and believe that they are experts within their field (especially within the arts) have missed the point. University should not be the completion of ones education, but in a sense just the beginning.

To address your second point, I believe that the greatest improvements to society in the past came not from artists or writers, but from scientists and engineers. I believe that this will be the case for the future too.

23. Seb   
Jun 12 2009 23:35

Wow... I think an alternate funding models was the first thing the IC tuition fees group looked at back in 2002/2003.

24. Seb   
Jun 12 2009 23:45

One of the essential problem with a graduate tax is that the present generation is asked to pay for the increased costs of building infrastructure that only future students will see. That was one of the reasons, IIRC, ICU ended up taking the position that income contingent loans were the best "realistic" funding option (other than scrapping the then target of 50% of the population undertaking higher education, which has now I think mutated to a general wish that 50% of people undertake further or higher education). Fundamentally, the graduate is not being asked to pay for the cost of his degree, but the cost of current degrees, which is going to create some odd political pressures.

Secondly, there is the problem that it amounts to shifting the societal "added value" of having 50% of people in higher education (any higher education, even if it's golf course management) onto the back of those that take their maths degree into the city, for example.

I'm not sure that is particularly equitable either. The big problem is that the Governments spending priorities inside higher education are skewed heavily to the idea that all degrees are more or less equal. You would have a bigger impact scrapping the expansion in higher education, or at least moving away from the idea of the near flat rate funding all degrees at all institutions, rather than asking financially successful graduates to fund higher education at a greater rate than they are already funding the state.

Jun 13 2009 03:11

I heard that John Matthews is an expert in Gold Course Management - in Dubai ????? Did that ever work out for him? I heard he was earning ?1M a year??

What the hell ever happened to old JM ?

Jun 19 2009 02:19

The NUS is a socialist organisation.

27. @25   
Jun 20 2009 01:00


er, yeah - SURE

28. Editor   
Jun 20 2009 14:47

@ 25 who is also 27

Posting a question and then replying to your own question seven days later serves no purpose other than to prove that nobody is interested in what you had to say in the first place. You tried to change the subject and noone took the bait. There is no reason for you to continue along that line. You'd probably get a better conversation by emailing yourself then at least we wouldn't have to sit through your schizophrenic ramblings. Thankyou.

29. pwned   
Jun 20 2009 18:58

Caught red handed! Good detective skills Editor :-)

Next time I'll remember to use a proxy.

>> 25

>> 27


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