The government just doesn't get it - Why are the middle classes ignored or assumed to be rich ?

As a means of winning over wavering Lib Dem MPs, the government is supposedly offering the possibility of students from poorer backgrounds the possibility of having their tuition fees paid for a year or two.

My simple response is, what about the middle classes ?

An 18 year old who has middle class parents earning £22k a year each (above the limit at which the government would have students repaying their loans) are no better off than students from poorer backgrounds. These middle class parents are not rich, they have no large disposable income, and they certainly do not have the money to bankroll children through university. But because these parents are not categorised as "poor" their children will have to pay out more in fees over three years than either of their parents earn in a single year.

The whole debate over tuition fees has seen the Lib Dems stuck in a ridiculous rut constantly arguing how Vince Cable's proposed system is fairer for the very poorest students, but totally ignores how unfair it is on those whose parents are not poor, but not exactly rolling in cash.

The thought of having £27000 of debts would almost certainly have put me off going to university, and it will have that effect too on many other children who are not loaded, but simple make ends meet.


Millennium Dome said...

On the fundamental question of the debt being a major fear factor off-putting people from going to university, you may have a point.

But you don't seem to know what you're talking about when it comes to the mechanics of the Coalition fees/loan scheme.

Firstly, no one has to "fund" their kids through university – there are no upfront fees to pay, those fees are paid by the loan; that's where the debt comes from.

And secondly, what do the student's parent's salaries have to do with anything? The £21,000 threshold only comes into play after the student has graduated, got a job and started earning. That's the point at which the now-graduate starts to repay, and the repayments are based on what they earn.

Of course parents can and will contribute to their kids time at uni, but the scheme places no obligation or burden on the parents.

And the Coalition he proposals always included additional help for the least well off, and that universities that wanted to charge more than £6000 had to offer additional assistance.

martijn said...

The thought of having £27000 of debts would almost certainly have put me off going to university

Would it have made a difference if it wouldn't have been a debt, but if you'd had to pay a graduate tax? For I think -- but it's been some time since I was in the position of havign to made such decisions and back then I never had to make them -- it would make a difference.

Also, isn't it the case that only in exceptional circumstances are universities allowed to set the fees higher than £6k/years?

(Both are genuine questions by the way.)

Norfolk Blogger said...

Exactly, what does the amount of money you ear have to do with it Millennium Dome ? You ask what parents income has to do with it, and that is in many ways my point. Poorer students, as determined by parents wealth, might get free tuition fees, but what about middle class kids ? it is the children who will carry the debt, not the parents.

Martijn - No, a graduate tax would have been fairer in my opinion. You don't have debt against your name (for starters) and the arguments that people will move abroad in order to save paying an extra 0.5% in income tax is laughable.

The argument people give against a graduate tax about people avoiding paying the graduate tax by moving abroad is also silly as people could just as easily move abroad and avoid paying back their tuition fees, which is something that already happens.

Anonymous said...

So we are going to treble tuition fees and then claim we are nice by giving the least well off one or two of the three years for free maybe leaving them, at best, erm...no better off than they were before! And just to make sure the unwashed progeny of the proleteriat don't take up many of the places we are going to slash funding to sixth forms and abolish the EMA to make sure they can't get the grades needed to enter HE!

martijn said...

the arguments that people will move abroad in order to save paying an extra 0.5% in income tax is laughable.

Would the equivalent be 0.5%? In that case, I agree. But then people do move abroad (I did; to the UK) so it is kind of unfair in the end.

Also, I actually think that having the debt against your name is kind of good: it is you who goes to uni after all.

Norfolk Blogger said...

SO Martijn, you make my point (without realising it).

If you move abroad, you wouldn't be repaying your tuition fees either, so how is it unfair to move a abroad and not pay a graduate tax but not unfair to not pay your tuition fees ?

Alan said...

The thought of having £27000 of debts would almost certainly have put me off going to university

And yet, when tuition fees were introduced, more students went to university. No evidence at all of this conjecture.

Facts: damned inconvenient things.

martijn said...

If you move abroad, you wouldn't be repaying your tuition fees either

My wife did a university course here in the UK. She is not British either. She had to give details of people (e.g. parents) they could contact in case she would "bugger off". Now I don't know how easy it would be for the UK government to trace her in case she did move away, but it's certainly not impossible. For UK citizens moving abroad it should be easier as they are likely to renew their passports every now and again.

Norfolk Blogger said...

But Alan, what I write was a fact. You dredged up a totally unrelated fact up which is not relevant. You are referring to the £9k student debt after 3 years. I am referring to the £27k.

Anonymous said...

Siomon Wirght is voting against the rise.
The right decision for all the wrong reasons. He should have made this choice immediately instead of waiting and seeing what was best for himself (in other words whether he could get away with voting for the rise) - he has now realised that were he to vote for the rise, his constituents would have him out on his arse.

Good to see, but if anything if lowers my faith in our elected representatives even further - they couldn't do the right thing for the right reasons at the right time if their life depended on it.

Becca said...

I think the key problem is the fear factor. Although there is no repayment until after you graduate, the prospect of £24000 plus debt is going to be much more daunting for those from working/middle class backgrounds. Secondly, I don't believe universities should become a market. This can't be good for social mobility and equal opportunities - students who are academically able to go to the best institutions should feel able to, regardless of the financial implications.

Norwich Taxpayer said...

So why does your leader Nick Clegg understand this concept then?

The problem with the Lib Dem leadership is that he argued the case against tuition fees during the General Election, and now doing the total reverse.

Why should we believe anything he says?

Norwich Taxpayer said...

The Lib Dems voted to introduce higher tuition fees after promising to legislate to stop them