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Top-Up Fee Bill Wins by 5 Votes

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.
Jan 27 2004 20:51
 

MPs this evening voted in favour of the latest Higher Education Bill but both its supporters and opponents say the battle is not yet won.

Click Here for the Full Article

1. Sam   
Jan 27 2004 22:04
 

According to the BBC, who were probably correct about the sexing up of the dossier as well, 46 Scottish Labour MPs voted for the bill.

This bill does not affect Scottish students. I am disgusted at the duplicity of Labour, and in fact in devolution itself. Frankly I think we should devolve Scotland entirely and remove all of their MPs from the English Parliament.

Take your 5 vote loss, factor in 46 MPs who had absolutely no moral right to vote, and call it a victory - by 41 votes.

Perhaps they should have followed the example of the 5 who voted against the bill (and indeed the 3 who at least had the grace to abstain) and vote for the good of the Country, not for the good of the Labour party.

Labour's days are numbered... I wonder if we can get them out before the second reading!

2. aha   
Jan 28 2004 00:07
 

Sam, you really need to look up the definition of the word "good". I come from a country with a massive brain leakage (excuse unintentional comedy associations), which has been caused purely through underfunding of universities. Academics (and bright students) leave in droves for the US shores, where higher education is expensive and thus institutions can afford to hire good people to do good research. Your "good of the country" seems to mean "free 3-year holiday for the slobs who want it", not "positive development of economy and society". Someone has to work in a factory, you know, and they do not need a BA in Basket Weaving to do it, in most cases. Universities in this country need all the money they can get, by whatever means. The more you pay, the better service you get as a student, the more apparent the benefits of higher education. If you do not have the two brain cells required to see that the debt you get into is insignificant in the medium term (not even long term), you probably did not deserve a place. Have the balls to get into debt and see the benefits for Christ's sake.

3. Simon   
Jan 28 2004 00:33
 

Sam wrote:

"This bill does not affect Scottish students."

This simply isn't true. I am a Scottish student, i.e. I my home address is in Scotland and that is where my parents live. I am here in London, and despite the fact that my "support" (hah!) comes from the Student Support Agency for Scotland, I pay fees, like everyone else here, under the English fees system.

What I think you were refering to is Scottish students who are studying in Scotland. But even so, this bill has no bearing on them.

I am very glad that my MP back home in Scotland voted in this matter. Sadly of course, he did not vote as I had lobbied him.

There are many "quirks" of the current system through which Scottish students studying in England lose out.

If what you are saying is that you don't want Scottish students to be treated as equal to English students in an English univeristy then I think you are living in the times pre James V / VI.

This does not change the fact that the Government should not have won the vote.

Jan 28 2004 08:13
 

aha wrote:

'I come from a country with a massive brain leakage (excuse unintentional comedy associations), which has been caused purely through underfunding of universities. Academics (and bright students) leave in droves for the US shores, where higher education is expensive and thus institutions can afford to hire good people to do good research. Your "good of the country" seems to mean "free 3-year holiday for the slobs who want it", not "positive development of economy and society" '

Interesting. How would you say the top up fee issue benefits medics, for example, who can expect to graduate with debt on the order of ?50000, when they are doing a degree which will inevitably benefit society as a whole?

You cannot seriously claim that ?50000 debt is either insignificant, or a short term problem, unless Daddy is planning not to buy that new Range Rover this year.

Jan 28 2004 09:01
 

I completely agree with Sam about the Scottish MPs. They are the ones who have sunk English higher education, with no harm to themselves - they can always say to Scottish students that they can stay at home and not pay the increased fees.

It's a shame this Bill didn't fail and force the goverment to come up with something that *really* addressed the problems of University funding. The ?3000 is not enough (according to the Rector) and in 10 years' time when the fee cap is removed, Universities will be reduced to begging again. Meanwhile, students will be accumulating debt like there's no tomorrow.

If you're planning on having kids and want to help them through university, start saving now. It will be too late by the time they're born.

6. Alex   
Jan 28 2004 11:28
 

I'm a bit confused by the Parliamentary page listing ayes and noes. Apart from the fact that there are 361 ayes and 231 noes, there is no sign of Blair or Brown in either list. I know the Speaker (an elected MP) doesn't vote, but since when did the PM not vote?

At least Portillo was as good as his word.

Jan 28 2004 11:50
 

Ooops! Thanks for pointing that out Alex. I put the wrong link up (the first one I put up, which I will remove in a sec to avoid confusion, was a vote concerning some procedural stuff about the bill I think).

To find out how your local MP voted regarding the Higher Education Bill yesterday click here

8. Alex   
Jan 28 2004 12:52
 

Thanks Nia. 316 v 311, all present and correct.

9. Mich   
Jan 28 2004 13:42
 

I note that there was no response to the question - "Mr. Tim Yeo (South Suffolk) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. After this utter humiliation for the Government, do you agree that it is completely wrong that a Bill that imposes higher charges on students attending English universities should be carried by this House only by using the votes of Scottish Members of Parliament, given that students attending universities in the constituents of those Scottish Members do not have pay those higher charges?"

I wonder why?!?!

Jan 28 2004 13:49
 

The response is on the next page. The speaker points out that the vote has been taken and that was that

Jan 28 2004 16:58
 

Lets not forget the significant, but unquantifiable number of rebels who didn't care about the bill, and just voted against Blair cos they hate him.

Thats the worst form of voting - ignoring what you are voting on just to piss off the person proposing it.

I particulaly like the one MP who voted both yes and no. Changing your mind within 8 minutes is impressive :-)

(I suspect he was actively registering his abstention).

Jan 28 2004 17:22
 

Maybe he just had some new shoes and wanted to try them out, possibly he was following a suspect marsupial or even less likely he had forgotten how to stop walking. We shall almost certainly never know Gus.

13. Eddie   
Jan 28 2004 17:34
 

And please lets not forget the argument "vote for this, cos we have spent a lot of time on it and there are some good bits to it"

ah. remember where that argument can get you.....

14.    
Jan 28 2004 18:08
 

I'd just point out that debt is a bit of a bad word to use. The phrase "capped graduate tax" is probably a better description.

So what's the difference?

Well 1) you're not really liable for it - lose your job and it doesn't screw you over.

2) You don't have to pay interest (at least in real terms)

3) It expires.

So people whining on about poor graduates unable to feed themselves because of crippling debt etc etc probably doesn't really help arguments against these measures.

15. aha   
Jan 28 2004 19:20
 

Maybe "debt" is the right word to use, as this is essentially a nicened-up mortgage on education. However, unlike a house, it cannot be taken away from you. So stop whinging, hippies, you get off light. In response to the medics with 50K debts -- tough! Let me reiterate that if you do not have the balls, don't take up the degree. You are meant to be doing medicine not because it is profitable, but because you care about mankind (at least, I'd like to think so). If you want financial rewards from life -- go do Computing. Either way, 50K is peanuts in the scope of your life-long career as a doctor (few medics stray from the chosen path). The top-up fees will be helping you in the sense that your uni will be able to afford better teaching facilities thus increasing your skills (should you, God forbid, choose to take advantage of these improved facilities). For some reason, a lot of you anti-fees people fail to grasp the simple leap of reasoning that more money flowing into _your_ university will be benefiting no one outside the uni but _you_.

16. tom t   
Jan 28 2004 19:34
 

Aha, you are completely wrong!

"The top-up fees will be helping you in the sense that your uni will be able to afford better teaching facilities thus increasing your skills (should you, God forbid, choose to take advantage of these improved facilities)."

Err, yes. Of the current 1175 that flows in, it all goes to the Uni. Sir Richard says that of teh 3000 predicted from 2006, one third will go to paying for poorer students - fine, so the net increase is reduced from 1825 to 825. Fine - that's a net increase. Sadly the funding deficiency at Imperial is not 875 per student per annum, but more like 6-7000 per student per annum. So the money to pay for that will still come from academics' salaries, and buildings maintenance and infrastructure budgets (so no energy efficiency in the BMS building after all) and of course all those sold-off out-lying halls of residence and playing fields, useless as they are (improved facilities? Beit en-suite is great if your company is paying the rent!!!).

There will be no noticeable difference to your teaching or facilities, until the cap is lifted. Then of course a medic will be lumped with a debt considerably more than 50K!

Now of course you have found it extremely easy to find a mortgage lender who will lend you 4 times your salary to buy a shoebox priced at ?200,000 despite your 'tiny' debt accrued at Uni, but not all people who go on to serve mankind (as you put it) go on to earn the computing superbucks that you aspire to (and just as well otherwise you'd be stuck when you break your leg). SO when will you get off your high horse and go to Uni of Buckinghamshire which is fully privatised, and stop scrounging off the gov't for your education, as "For some reason, a lot of you anti-fees people fail to grasp the simple leap of reasoning that more money flowing into _your_ university will be benefiting no one outside the uni but _you_."

Go on - bugger off and stop nicking other people's money for your sole benefit.

17. sporty   
Jan 29 2004 00:00
 

aha wrote:

'In response to the medics with 50K debts -- tough! Let me reiterate that if you do not have the balls, don't take up the degree.'

And yet you complain that there is a brain drain in this country. Ever stop to think why that is? Because science degrees don't guarentee a high wage job, nor financial security or even financial independance following graduation.

You have stated that people who want to be a Medic should 'have the balls to do it'. Anyone who wants 'a risk free degree' should take Computing. How the F**K can you reconcile this view with your statement on a 'brain drain' to other countries?

1. Science degrees will suffer, as people will not be as assured of well paid jobs, such as students of Computing might enjoy. Thus science research will move abroad, where funding is available, and where you aren't losing 10K a year.

2. Medical degrees will suffer, as to every rational 17 year old deciding where to go to university, ?50,000 debt is FAR more than they would accrue going to study other courses at other universities. Net result - the current 'grey GP' crisis is exacerbated by even less qualified members entering the profession.

Claiming that education is a marketable economy is f**king ridiculous. As has been shown time and time again, when a company invests money into research labs with abstract goals (ie. labs with highly intelligent people, without any overrididing priorities or constraints), there are stunning results (cf. Bell Labs). Specific research yields incremental results; general research yields fundamental changes.

I agree that universities are currently underfinanced; claiming that the current bill is perfect has been clearly shown to be f**king stupid. What's even more stupid in my view is acceptance voting on the bill, through the simple virtue of it being 'the best thing yet'. Labour have a long and talented history of breaking election pledges; what makes you so sure that those linked to higher education will be respected in the next parliament?

18. aha   
Jan 29 2004 00:41
 

So many responses! Controversy is good. Let's begin:

A) Tom T's personal pledge for me to stop spongeing off the current system. Sorry Tom, no can do. I have graduated. However, when I was still in uni (up to 2003) I was paying the "fair" 11K a year as an overseas student, which I am. Now, I enjoy working in this country, paying 30% of what I earn in tax (how much I get is left as an excercise for the reader). My parents, who (at their great inconvenience) paid my fees, which they had to, as foreigners are not trusted with loans in this country. I consider this as debt in the same way as the Bill, it is not enforced until I start earning enough to get them an Alpine cottage or an Aston Martin as a repayment. In the worst case of me ever becoming a bum, this debt disapears and cannot be enforced. I must say though, that the reason I am pro-top-up fees is not because I paid the full cost of education, I actually think that paying for what you are given is a fair concept.

B) Brain leakage. I did not imply that the leakage occurs from the UK. You guys do not know the meaning of brain leakage. 80% (that's eighty) of my parents years in their university (which is a very good one) have left the country (not the UK, I reiterate) and the situation has not got better in the last 20 years. The UK has little to worry about, yet. I know how dire it gets and the UK realy does not want a similar thing to happen here.

C) Tom T's claim that the facilities will not improve so much as we'd notice. Correct. The cap needs to be lifted. This is, pardon my French, a pussy-ass Bill, which truly shys away from addressing the problem completely and setting fees at the level they should be at 8 to 10 to ... K. However, I can understand Blair, as the Bill would have been laughed at was it to set the plank where it should be. Kind of a softly-softly tactic (aka half-a**ed). I did notice though, that you did concede that although this Bill does not solve the deficit completely, it puts a dampener on the financial rot which is happening to UK universities, and will continue to do so until people get used to and see the benefits of, top-up fees.

D) The science/medicine degrees do not guarantee a highly paid job. True to an extent - they do not _at_the_start_. However, your average projected debt will not likely be greater than your annual salary after, say, three years in an industry for engineers/scientists and maybe ten years as a doctor. If you don't manage to get that far up the ladder, you probably didn't deserve to go to Uni anyway, you are quite possibly a locust. A yearly salary sounds a lot but is a fair deal -- you get taught for 3/4 or 6 years and piss about drinking for 1-years work in the future! Seriously, this is a bargain.

Oh c**p, just looked at the clock... ;-)

19. C!   
Jan 29 2004 08:18
 

"If you don't manage to get that far up the ladder, you probably didn't deserve to go to Uni anyway, you are quite possibly a locust"

So what about people going into research?

20. Sam   
Jan 29 2004 10:10
 

aha,

The reason Foreign students pay the full economic costs of fees is that there has been no contribution via tax by themselves or their parents in the UK previously.

My parents have been paying income, VAT and other taxes for 40 years. They believed that tax would be, in part, funding a free education for their children. As far as they are concerned, they have paid twice for my education. Once in tax to fund the University's infrastructure, and once in fees (i got no fee remission, as I am part of the overtaxed middle income classes). My parents paid it all.

Because by then Grants had been replaced with loans, I am faced with a modest amount of debt (c ?10k) which funded my living costs (along with various part time jobs). I don't actually have a problem with my own debt, as it paid my living costs, not my fees.

However now I have a job, I am paying tax. This tax will in part fund the University infrastructure. So in effect my family is paying 3 times for Universities.

Tax seems to rise year on year, at above the rate of inflation. This would seem to imply that there is more money in the pot than ever. Why is this money not free to pay for Universities? Perhaps it's because, as Seb mentioned, Fat Tony has been pissing it up the wall paying for worthless degrees from so called new "Universities". Perhaps it's because he's spent billions of pounds in securing better sources of oil, oops, sorry i meant in the war against terror.

Frankly I think we were better off under the conservatives. At least Education wasn't something they'd privatised yet.

A party which won't even honour it's own election pledges, and simply dilutes them with weasel-words and forgets them at will is an abuse of the promise they pledged to the electorate.

I didn't vote for them, and I'm hoping that next time neither will you!

21.    
Jan 29 2004 10:29
 

Tax doesn't rise year on year at a higher rate than inflation. It's just that for the last few years the government has decided to increase the rate of tax. Which they have mostly dumped into the NHS and Iraq. And at least one of those is showing some benefit, although still has its problems. Take your pick which one - I'm sure you'll get just as much of an argument.

Oh and the key word in Sam's third from last paragraph is "yet". I wouldn't want to trust a party which spent most of yesterday looking stupid as they accused the PM of having a possible subcontious influence on someone (who ignored it though). On the other hand - I wouldn't really trust a party that mangaged to get into such a stupid position in the first place. Which probably means we should all vote Lib Dem.... but then we'd all be f**ked.... so no change there, bring it on!

Feb 02 2004 12:49
 

Student debt isn't the same as normal debt though is it. Its not like a ?30K mortgage where you have to pay even if you don't earn enough. If people are told how repayments are made and how long they pay for, then the debts won't sound too off-putting.

23. Anna   
Feb 06 2004 09:37
 

Hi,

I am aware that you are all arguing very good points, and though i am a well educated student (i do not mean to sound up myself!) can you please talk in simpler engllish as i simply cannot understand a lot of the stuff you are saying. i say the top-up fees are a stupid idea - i have my own reasons!

24. Anna   
Feb 06 2004 09:38
 

Sorry, i typed English wrong - i can actually spell very well. i vote conservative!

Feb 06 2004 11:44
 

Another thing that annoys me is the hypocracy from the Tories and some well-off students who don't mind paying thousands a year for private schools, but then start moaning if they have to pay at uni.

26. Seb   
Feb 06 2004 12:49
 

When you pay for private school, it is to opt out of a state system which is percieved as less good than the private sector.

Top up fees on the other hand would apply across the board. There is of course an argument that the fees will be differentiated according to the instiution, however the sorts of course that will be taught with, say, only ?1,500 fees are going to be fundementaly differnt from those at ?3,000. The low end of the market is going to be made up of "foundation degrees" (which used to be GNVQs)

There is another word for this so called market: A cartel.

The other big issue is that very few people who send their children to private school have done so paying fees directly from the sallery. Most have been saving money since their children were born to pay off the fees. Hence the middle class trust funds etc.

But just because some parents can afford to save and then spend ?40,000 on their childrens GCSE and A-Levels over 10-18 years does not imply they can afford another ?40,000 for the University education also. It's a bit like saying that just because you can afford one mortgage, you can afford two mortgages.

Feb 06 2004 13:40
 

If you can afford to send your child through private school then you can afford to pay the uni fees to imo. Poor families don't buy their children a 'better' education because they cannot afford it. If someone has been through the private system paying 1000s then its probable that they could probably afford a few more.

28. Seb   
Feb 06 2004 17:21
 

Really? It is such a simple matter to double the ammount you are saving over a ten year period?

If you don't mind me saying so that is a deeply flawed, knee jerk response. While there are a few people who send their children to independent schools who can afford it easily, many middle class families go to great efforts to scrape together the money.

The stereotype of two corporate directors sending their sone to Eton is, quite simply, wrong. It doesn't represent the majority at all. Indeed, 30% of pupils at independent schools are paid for to some degree by burssaries. Expecting those families to snap their fingers and double the output is about as realistic as doubling the mortgages of teachers on the ground that if they could afford one mortgage, then "IMO" they can afford another one.

Education, as in the national budget, is often the second biggest financial commitment a middle class family makes after the mortgage, along with the pension.

You could put "better" in quotation marks if you like. However, my local comprehensive did not acknowledge dyslexia and other learning difficulties when I was 13. If I hadn't gone to a private school, I probably be flipping burgers now simply because I couldn't write ledgibly untill I started getting specific teaching on that issue. That's just one example of why people might consider it worthwhile to privately educate their children. It's not actually all a matter of snobishness.

Feb 09 2004 11:34
 

My point is of hypocracy rather than merits of private education. If people believe that buying an education is right then surely they can't stand by the banner of free education at uni level. I don't think private schools do a better job - there are some good ones and bad ones just like any state school.

30. Seb   
Feb 09 2004 12:10
 

Er, no. There is no hypocracy there at all.

I would argue the reverse:

You have the option of free education at primary and secondary school level. You also have the option of buying a private university education. It happens that many people buy private education for a combination or real and percieved inadequacies in the free, state system.

Why then should you not have the option of a free university education? There is one private university in the UK. The reason there are not more is because the state funded universities are fine.

31. Seb   
Feb 09 2004 12:20
 

And I would argue that private schools, are, on the whole better in that they offer smaller class sizes and more individualised teaching.

That can make a massive difference for individuals, particularly if they have specific learning disabilities. That is, essentialy, what you pay for if you opt to send your child to private school: greater influence in your childs education, and better chances of your child fully realising their potential.

The overall accademic standards of comprehensives, gramar schools and independent schools do of course all vary, and independent schools tend to select their intake so league tables are not a good indicator of the actual level of teaching compared to other schools(if you take in a bunch of above average students you would have to work pretty hard to get an average mark distribution out).

I certainly don't buy into the idea that pupils from state schools are therefore all thick and pupils from private are therefore all clever. That is patently nonsense. It's a shame that the arguments for and against private schools tend to boil down to that sort of argument.

Feb 10 2004 12:42
 

As you say, private school allow a child more chance to fulfill their potential - so why then shouldn't every child have that instead just richer children?

I think its very important that at uni we should not create a 2 tier education system which currently occurs pre-18.

33. Seb   
Feb 10 2004 17:18
 

I wholeheartedly agree that every child should have the same opportunities that private school students have.

Ask yourself why Private schools in other western countries, lets take America, exist almost exclusively to provide for *religious* rather than accademic requirements?

It's not the people paying for private education that are undermining state schools, it's interfering local management and central government.

Probably one of the biggest benefits that an independent school has is that they have far more freedom to enforce discipline in the form of detentions, exclusions, expulsions, and being able to physicaly manhandle distruptiove students out of the room if necessary.

But as long as the state secondary system is precieved to underperform, there will be a market for private schools.

However, a tiering of universities already exists in the UK. Everyone knows which universities are worthwhile. Lets not pretend that a degree in, say, Phyiscs from Imperial is considered the same as a degree in Physics from a former polytechnic.

The point is that access to Universities ought to be based on academic merit alone. Anyone who is capeable of undertaking a rigorous degree ought to be able to undertake that degree.

Currently, there is no market in higher education, because the state funded uni's are doing a good job.

34. Seb   
Feb 11 2004 00:20
 

consequently, allowing them all to raise fees isn't freeing people to have the option of buying better, it's really just creating a state backed cartel.

Feb 11 2004 09:47
 

You've made some good points about some private schools but the point I'm making is that it is wholly unfair that private school are only open to richer families.

This early 2-tiering creates such unfairness and divides society.

I'm not saying close down private schools, keep them but the state should take them over and see what it can learn from it.

Feb 11 2004 10:21
 

Or how about this for an idea - to make access to public schools fairer we could reintroduce the Assisted Places Scheme. This might be more reasonable than shutting them all down or placing them all in the state sector simply because they are an anomaly.

Feb 11 2004 11:32
 

The assisted places scheme was good in that it allowed poorer students into private schools (I benefited from one) but it didn't change the fact that many people could buy their education there which I think is wrong. If we are going to reserve better schools for 'brighter' students and create a 2 tier system then we should scrap fee paying schools and open them up to all.

38. Seb   
Feb 11 2004 13:17
 

Well firstly, I think that is unreasonable. Why should people not be permited to buy better education?

Firstly, the private system works well in highlighting wehre the state system is

falling down.

Secondly, on a more philosophical level, isn't it unfair that some people have to live off tesco super savers brand backed beans and others can enjoy waitrose luxury hand baked beans from tuscany (or whatever). We should have only one brand of baked beans!

Then there is the fact that Private Schools are (mostly) charities, and contrary to Mr Clarkes bizzare claims, do actualy work to earn that status. Almost all private schools have scholarships and burssaries (though I think the Scholarships at some of the top public schools should be means tested rather than soley academic, to make sure they go where they are more needed). Across the entire sector, about a third of students are recieveing some sort of bursary or scholarship.

There is also other various kinds of work they do: lending facilities out to nearby state schools. Westminster, where I went, was heavily involved in the Pimlico Connection scheme, which I think IC is also involved in.

Then there is the fact that every paying parent is still paying for the state education system also, whilst removing a burden from it.

Finally, having the state take over these schools is ultimately going to be counter productive. It's increadibly esay to work out why these schools are succesful: more money, more rigorous discipline, more teachers, in general with better accademic qualifications due to higher pay, smaller class sizes, and more co-operation from the pupils parents. You rarely get pupils parents turning up to complain about their child being put in detention, for example. The phrase "I know my rights" never occurs. (I say all this because my aunt teaches in a state school, and uncontrolable children are the biggest problem, and they can't do anything about them due to regulation).

If the state took over running the independent schools, the likelyhood is they would become comprehensives (seeing as how Gramar schools are considered unfair) and suffer the same over-regulation, micromanaged finances and loose a great deal of control of their staff recruitment.

The way forward is not necesarily to spend more on state schools, but to give more controll over how the money is spent to the school and ditch the endless lists of targets they have to achieve.

Feb 12 2004 15:52
 

I wouldn't compare buying baked beans with education. Rich people should be allowed to buy whatever they want, except education. Education should be open to all, based on merit rather than how much you earn.

Education is a way to get out of poverty to. With your way rich will get the better opportunities and becomer richer.

Sure there are some bursary/scholarship schemes but you have to be very bright. So those that go to private schools are poor and very bright or rich and average to very bright. I'd like to see private schools open their doors and say if you good enough then we don't care how much you pay.

The charity status is a joke. Many schools are earning millions a year.

I'm all for private schools being turned into state funded grammar schools. Then these schools could concentrate their resources on those who merit it rather than those who can afford it.

40. Seb   
Feb 12 2004 22:07
 

The baked bean analogy holds. It's a matter of freedom. It is utterly unreasonable to force people to submit to the lowest common denominator. What next, ban private health care? After all, life and death is more important than education.

"sorry, I know you could afford to pay for treatment to live a few more years, but I'm affraid we aren't allowing you to buy that..."

"Education should be open to all, based on merit rather than how much you earn."

Education is open to all at primary and secondary levels.

The only reason that there is an advantage in paying for private schooling is that the Government have managed to mess-up secondary education. Probably the worst thing that was done was to try and wipe out the Gramar schools.

If there is a disadvantage in the state schools relative to the priavte schools, the answer is not to wipe them out, the answer is to improve state schools to the point when it's purely an aesthetic choice to go private. This is more or less the case in America and in France and in much of the continent.

Are you seriously suggesting the alternative is to deliberately restric people reaching their full potential just because the state system restricts some people reaching their full potential?

I think that's miserable. From my point of view, that would mean having been consigned to the accademic scrap heap and a life in retail because my local comp didn't believe in learning disabilities like dyslexia. I was lucky in that my parents could afford to send me somewhere that did recognise it. But you seem to be saying that this is deeply unfair and that, sorry, I just shouldn't have been allowed to benefit from any education.

The answer is to level up, not to level down.

"but you have to be very bright."

Burssaries are means tested generally, whereas scholarships refer to things you need to earn.

On average, you need be no brighter than the rest of the intake.

You have to be bright to get to IC too. I see nothing wrong with streaming and accademic selection.

"I'd like to see private schools open their doors and say if you good enough then we don't care how much you pay."

So would I, but then who pays the staffs wages? Not the government. This is why we should have an expanded system of assisted places schemes.

"Many schools are earning millions a year."

Which get plowed back into facilities, burssary funds (which according to ISCO are increasing). These are not-for-profit organisations. They have no shareholders, no one gets paid divividends. Fine, take away the charitable status and you are left with organisations that suddenly have no reason whatsoever to lend out facilities to nearby stateschools, which LEA's have flogged off over the past two decades. After all, why should they then?

You talk about private schools resources being concentrated, but without fees they have no resources. That's the point.

Feb 13 2004 09:49
 

Well I don't think you can compare education and health with baked beans. Sure people should be free to buy whatever they want if they have the money, except for things like education and healthcare IMO. Its not fair that poorer people are not given the same opportunities as richer people.

I think education should be open to all. No buts - at every level from preschool to university. A university education is a continuation from secondary education and so anyone who wants one should be able to have access to the full range range.

I'm not saying wipe out private schools. Simply have them unbder state control and cnvert them into proper, merit-based grammar schools. That way we can be certain thate veryone at that school is there based on the right reasons.

I'm all for selection; grouping kids of different abilities so that teaching can be tailored to their needs so that every child can reach their full potential.

How do you pay for this? Tax the rich.

42. Seb   
Feb 15 2004 17:30
 

So lets get this straight, if someone has the money to pay for treatment for a terminal condition that the NHS will not pay for, or to secure a private operation to avoid a health threatening waiting queue, they should not be permited to spend that money?

Well what's the point of having money if you can't even use it prolong your life? Hell, if it's a matter of equality then lets just have a mandatory age of death set at the average life expectancy.

"I think education should be open to all."

Education *is* open to all. The problem is that the state education system is percieved as being inadequate in some areas.

Shutting down private schools because they offer advantages is not going to do anything in real terms to increase access to education for all, it's closing education for some. Which is ridiculous!

It's putting equality above progression. If you concentrate on improving the state sector then the private sector will wither as the cost-benefit ballence changes.

"A university education is a continuation from secondary education"

It's not. Secondary education is compulsory. Tertiary education is voluntary.

"and so anyone who wants one should be able to have access to the full range"

So a tripple C candidate should be permitted fully fundend enrolment on, say, a Chemistry degree at Imperial?

"That way we can be certain thate veryone at that school is there based on the right reasons."

Er.. you can't just buy your way into these schools. It's bad for their reputation and it hits their league tables. If they don't perform well, then people don't want to send their children there. I'd say there is a greater risk of corruption in getting into Grammar schools by shoving soeone a bung, because their funding isn't based on accademic performance.

Private schools will kick you out for succesive poor performance.

Furthemore, you haven't explained where the funding is going to come from to maintain these schools at the level they currently are at. You couldn't possibly nationalise the private system and continue to fund them at their current levels without creating a two tier system within the state (which really would be wrong).

Tax the rich (always the answer isn't it) won't raise that much money.

Asside from the broader issues*, you forget that the rich who send their children to private schools are paying twice, or thrice over already for education: Once for their kids, and once for someone else via the tax reciepts as they are net contributers to the state, and an opportunity cost in that they are not drawing resources from the state system by sending their child there.

Finally, the big thing is the fact that tax comes out of income, yet the majority of private school fees are paid out of savings over a ten year period.

Ultimately, the state needs to proove it can run the schools it's got well before taking on other ones.

(laffer curve, for example: the more you raise tax rates the less you get in taxes as the more worthwhile tax evasion becomes. This is how the Thatchers government tax reforms initally increased the tax revenue though the rates were lowered)

43.  
Feb 16 2004 09:44
 

sounds to me that Seb is trying to defend the fact he went to private school, and yet unhold council policy... surely you are contradicting yourself by defending private education but yet defending to right to free or discounted uni education...

44. ciaran   
Feb 16 2004 10:24
 

Seb Savings= Income at equilibrium.

C+S+G= C+I+T

basic macroeconmics boy!

Feb 16 2004 16:24
 

IMO people should not be permitted to jump the queue just cos they have the money; they should wait in the cue like the rest of us.

You should be able to spend your money on whateva you like, baked beans if you want, but not in education and health.

I didn't say shut down private schools. I said take them over, make them into proper grammar schools based on selecting the best kids, not the richest. Then all the clever kids can have access to better facilties/teaching etc.

When I said a uni education is a continuation from secondary, that was my opinion - I didn't get it from a book! That's my belief - nowadays you certainly need a good degree to get into things that say, 20 years ago, you didn't.

Many private schools don't kick out kids who do poorly. At mine, many were allowed to do less A levels - prob so that they can keep the fee money. Many private schools don't do that well in the league tables neither.

Also by making private schools state, rich families won't have to pay twice or thrice as you say cos there would be no fees!

46. tom t   
Feb 16 2004 17:24
 

Judging by your spelling and grammar and punctuation, Pkonline, I'd be surprised if your private school would have anyone left to teach if they expelled students doing poorly, or doing 'less' A-levels, or even being doubly negative about their abilities...

Surely you attended an exam factory, which is quite possibly why you're here now!

I am surprised that there are still so many atrocious private schools around! I'd have thought that any prudent parents would save money and send their kids to the local state school if the educational standard is so poor. But then, having lots of money was never any indication of having strong faculties.

47. Seb   
Feb 16 2004 20:32
 

A:

Council has no policy on secondary education to my knowledge. Nor am I defending the fact that I went to Private school. Since when did private education become morally objectionable?

Also, you are again missing the point. While you have the option of paying for private education, you also have the option of a free state education. Theoretically they would offer near indistinguishable service(as is the case in America and across most of the continent). However, due to mismanagement and centralised controll, they are not.

There is no option of a free university education under the new proposals.

An adequate comparisson with the secondary education system would be if the Government decided to start charging for attendence of state schools.

There is, I belive, one university in the UK that does not apply for teaching grants and is thus free to levy what fees it likes. This is the university equivalent to a private school. It's not part of the Russel group and not acknowledged as being very good.

I would very much like to see the day that private schools in the UK implode due to a lack of demand because the state system is both free and of equivalent quality.

48. Seb   
Feb 16 2004 20:36
 

ciaran:

Define.

I've never got round to studying macroeconomics, but my reasoning would go as follows.

If it takes the majority (vast majority) of parents buying private education to save over the life of their child to pay for private education, and you wish to fund the private schools at their existing levels out of taxation on a year to year basis without taxing any other groups, you must take the amount required for each place from the income of said parents, rather than from the income of said parents over, say, 10 years.

49. Seb   
Feb 16 2004 20:47
 

PK online:

How is anyone jumping the queue?

"I said take them over, make them into proper grammar schools based on selecting the best kids, not the richest."

They select the best, richest kids, and that gives them the money to also take on the best of the poor also (about a third of places at independent school places).

Without the fee income, they would not be in a position to offer the services they do offer, and so selecting the best would be more or less pointless.

As for the degree issue, a pricate education isn't a ticket into a good university. Plenty of my... colleagues ... for want of a better word did not end up in good universities. University admissions is in the hands of UCAS and is based on merit.

All Private Schools can do is help to bring out and develop whatever abilities that a pupil already has. They can't make anyone cleverer. Thus any difference between Private Schools students and state school students of equal potential is indicative of a failing in the state school. Absorbing private schools as a "super" tier in the state school does not mitigate this failure. We should be offering the best education to everyone who is capeable of benefiting from it, not just the top n%.

"Many private schools don't kick out kids who do poorly. At mine, many were allowed to do less A levels - prob so that they can keep the fee money. Many private schools don't do that well in the league tables neither."

Well in that case they clearly are not allowing anyone to jump the queue then are they?

"Also by making private schools state, rich families won't have to pay twice or thrice as you say cos there would be no fees!"

Yes they would. You said you are going to raise taxes to fund the system. So not only are they going to have to pay twice or thrice, they don't necesarily get the benefit.

50. Sunil   
Feb 16 2004 23:14
 

"Surely you attended an exam factory, which is quite possibly why you're here now!"

If exam factories exist, that indicates a failure in the examination system. This in turn suggests that that is what needs reforming, not the private school that behaves as such (because it's a great selling point).

"I am surprised that there are still so many atrocious private schools around! I'd have thought that any prudent parents would save money and send their kids to the local state school if the educational standard is so poor. But then, having lots of money was never any indication of having strong faculties."

It's not a surprise at all. Rather it's a matter of playing to the market. Parents, especially well-off ones who are not of particularly academic bent, will often pick schools based on facilities such as playing fields and swimming pools. Any private school head would treat beating the local state schools in those respects (and, then, academics) as the minimum target for performance. That and keeping up the number of SUVs that drop kids off every morning, clog the car park if there is one and block every road around for miles.

Things, of course, are different when you have exceptionally good state schools locally. In that case, it's simply a matter of catering to the parents who wanted to but failed to send their kids there, but balk at the thought of their child "mixing with the plebs".

51. Seb   
Feb 17 2004 00:31
 

Sunil:

Nice analysis of the market in low end private schools. I concur.

But I'd just like to take the opportunity to point out that these private schools offer little in the way of distortion of university entrance and so should be left to their own devices.

Ultimately, that is what nearly all private schools would tend to in the event a decent state sector: a status symbol or somewhere with improved extra-curricular and incidental facilities.

That should be the aim of those concerned about the distorting effects of private schools, not trying to remove them by other means.

Feb 19 2004 15:42
 

"They select the best, richest kids, and that gives them the money to also take on the best of the poor also (about a third of places at independent school places)."

Why not have a system where the only requirement is that you are on eof the best. Your quote means that if you are rich you have twice the prbablility of going to a private school than a poor kid. Now that can't be fair can it?

"Without the fee income, they would not be in a position to offer the services they do offer, and so selecting the best would be more or less pointless."

By increasing tax and investing a lot more in all schools, every school will be able to achieve the kind of benefits a private school could give.

"University admissions is in the hands of UCAS and is based on merit."

Thats true. A lot of the skewed private:state figures aren't due to unis, but begin much earlier at secondary level. But a private education does help people get into better universities.

"We should be offering the best education to everyone who is capeable of benefiting from it, not just the top n%"

Agreed, but I think by tailoring education to people's needs and abilites is a better for everyone.

"You said you are going to raise taxes to fund the system. So not only are they going to have to pay twice or thrice, they don't necesarily get the benefit."

Yes they would cos they shall receive a good standard of education, as well as feeling good about helping other kids too ;-).

53. Seb   
Feb 20 2004 14:36
 

"Why not have a system where the only requirement is that you are on eof the best. Your quote means that if you are rich you have twice the prbablility of going to a private school than a poor kid."

True, but why should a private school be better than a state school? The only reason they are is because they have:

1. More resources.

2. Independence.

Rather than nationalise the private system, you could easily create an elite tier of state schools. If you nationalise the private system, then either you are going to have to fund it more than "ordinary" schools and you are going to have to give it more independence if you want it to maintain it's standards.

Quite simply, there is no need to go raiding the private system. Indeed, the likely result would simply be to wreck the private schools.

"By increasing tax and investing a lot more in all schools, every school will be able to achieve the kind of benefits a private school could give."

Then why nationalise the private schools in the first place! That is my point.

"But a private education does help people get into better universities."

I'd charachterise it another way: the state system is preventing people from realising their full potential and thus makes it harder for them to get into university. The unfairness is not that Private Schools exist, it is that the state system can underperform.

"Yes they would cos they shall receive a good standard of education, as well as feeling good about helping other kids too ;-)."

Ah. Altruism. People who would give money to people freely tend to get very annoyed when the tax man takes it anyway.

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