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Tuition fees - should we maintain the current system?

Discussion in 'Speaker's Corner' started by dowie, Nov 13, 2019.

  1. StarShock

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Nov 6, 2005

    Posts: 1,637

    I've conflated two functionally identical things, if you think free education is good but say that free education is bad, that's called being a hypocrite
  2. dowie


    Joined: Jan 29, 2008

    Posts: 43,270

    Well no they're not functionally identical and again you're just trying to build a contradiction by conflating them.

    Can you come up with an argument that doesn't involve conflating them?

    The assertion that everyone who believes that free secondary education is a good idea should also therefore support free tertiary education is inherently flawed. As pointed out one is mandated by the government and inherently useful for participation in society and the other is entirely optional and indeed completely avoided by some people who go on to be productive members of society and tax payers. They're different things! Why should a successful plumber who has only benefitted from secondary education necessarily also agree to subsidise those who wish to study for a degree lest supposedly be a "hypocrite"? How is it hypocritical of him to hold that position?

    Should MBAs that would otherwise cost 50k say be free of charge too?
  3. Cleisthenes


    Joined: Jul 29, 2013

    Posts: 7,375

    Location: TN1

    I went to uni in the first year of the 9k fees. I currently earn about the average UK salary and have been paying against my student loan for the past year. I got an up to date statement the other day and my debt has increased by £1000 to about £44k now. Realistically I won't pay it back in full ever but I just count it as an additional tax so it doesn't bother me too much.

    Educationally I think it has helped my overall knowledge and how 'with it' I am, but I didn't need a degree to be on the path I'm on at the moment (chartered accountancy).
  4. StarShock

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Nov 6, 2005

    Posts: 1,637

    Nope, my only arguement remains the same, if someone has massively benefitted from free education, and then write an article about how people should pay tuition fees they are a hypocrite.

    It doesn't make a difference that it's two educations. Much like if someone makes use of a bus pass and writes an article saying that train prices should go up would be a hypocrite. Even though a bus is not a train.

    Understand that I don't think that getting a grant is a bad thing, or that using a bus pass is a bad thing. I do think that when those same people write an article extoling the virtues of making people pay more they are being hypocritical, and the specific person who wrote that article is rightly being called out for it.

    His words do not match his actions, that's by definition being a hypocrite.

    At this point I feel like I'm repeating myself. But I maintain that people are not upset that he got a grant, or that he didn't pay tuition fees, (as you say he likely did). But they are right to call out his article because he has, by his own administration, benefitted from expensive education that he didn't have to pay for, and as such is being hypocritical when he says that people should have to pay.
  5. dowie


    Joined: Jan 29, 2008

    Posts: 43,270

    But pensioners do get free bus passes and don't necessarily get a free cross country train tickets or free plane tickets to say visit the grand kids - why would that be hypocritical? Again it involves criticising different things!

    You could present an argument that simplifies it to "someone that benefits from free transport shouldn't argue against free transport" and declare that pensioners should get free train and plane tickets because they get free bus passes... but it is an inherently flawed argument.

    That is what you've done by conflating secondary education with university education - you're even referring to his school scholarship as a "grant".

    A local bus journey isn't necessarily equivalent to a train journey and your local secondary school isn't equivalent to university so why conflate them?

    You've just done it again (see the bold) - he likely pays tuition fees too so how is he doing what you claim there? He's advocating in favour of something that he likely paid for too!

    ... for an entirely different form of education. You are repeating yourself as you've not been able to put forth an argument that doesn't involve you deliberately conflating different things.

    I notice you dodged the question about whether 50k MBAs should be free - are you unable to answer that because you, according to your own argument might be a hypocrite?
  6. mattyfez


    Joined: Apr 12, 2007

    Posts: 9,260

    I think fees should be applicable for a lot of degrees, possibly reduced for certain in demand skills.

    My reasoning being that why should people in basic retail /warehouse jobs etc. Be subsidising people studying things like media studies etc. Through taxation.
  7. BowdonUK


    Joined: Jan 17, 2016

    Posts: 2,879

    I finished school (and never went to Uni) before the introduction of tuition fees, so I'm not that educated on the facts of it.

    It was my understanding that you only had to pay it back if you ended up in an earning job over a certain salary level? If you never got to that level then you didn't have to pay it back? Am I wrong in that thought?
  8. dowie


    Joined: Jan 29, 2008

    Posts: 43,270

    @BowdonUK you’re correct, that is the jist of it. There is currently a time limit to the loan and a threshold at which repayments start.
  9. adolf hamster


    Joined: Oct 18, 2012

    Posts: 7,006

    i would agree, let industry demand set the price of tuition fee's, the greater the demand the lower the fee.

    would encourage folk to go for degrees where jobs are more likely too.

    however it's a tricky one, as has been mentioned degrees are pseudo apprenticeships these days and i'm not sure that's a good thing. there's a great benefit to a more practical education for some careers and it would be nice to see a resurgence of this.

    of course the problem is a degree still has it's "prestige" tacked on, which itself isn't a bad thing until you realize it's sapping the sense of accomplishment from other routes such as technical colleges or apprenticeships, which of course means people won't go for them. problem is it's getting to the stage where so many jobs are asking "must have a degree", sometimes they even specify in what, which royally screws over folk who are possibly just as technically competent for the role but didn't get their education from a university.
  10. malachi


    Joined: Jun 27, 2006

    Posts: 9,404

    Location: Earth

    They do that to reduce the numbers which is bad, yet there are still a high number of unemployment in many areas of the UK.

    I already called out a company I used to work for over this in their JD. This was to work in their call center. :confused:

    They still have a high turn over to this day.
  11. Thecaferacer


    Joined: Feb 3, 2019

    Posts: 747

    I also went to uni in the first year of fees and it took a long time to pay it off since it was effectively an additional 10% tax at a time I was also paying for additional education, trying to set up home etc. It was a struggle. It is only in my mid 30s that I really started to Excell financially and I've out accelerated friends who plateaud.

    My personal opinion is university degrees should be state funded for critical subjects, the sciences, medicine, engineering etc. However they should be difficult to get on to and be based on aptitude (something akin to IQ testing) rather than results based as that can be skewed by prior schooling.

    We have a situation at the moment where degrees have been devalued but cost a fortune, which disincentivises the brightest who cannot take the risk of taking on that much debt. If you want to study some Mickey Mouse gender studies course, then pay for it yourself.
  12. PlacidCasual


    Joined: May 13, 2003

    Posts: 6,096

    If the expectation is a continuation of the current levels of University attendance then fees will have to stay, the cost is so high vs the societal benefit that should the general tax payer bear the cost of what in many cases is unnecessary higher education. In my industry graduate wages are significantly higher (accounting for inflation) than they were when I joined. My generation weren't burdened with heavy debts though and it is what we have to pay in order to attract talent. As a consequence the rate or early career pay progression has reduced because initial wages are that much higher.

    The country doesn't need as many graduates as we're getting in some of the softer subjects and we should be incentivising more further education. We take a lot of apprentices and technician trainees many of whom who develop to the same roles as the graduate engineers but taking a more practical approach with more work based learning. As a model for UK industry I feel this is better place to send many of our youth rather than University, they can start earning earlier enjoy the benefits of education and pay at the same time and tailor their learning to higher value adding roles in industries they know something about. I would offer substantial tax write off against apprenticeships and allow for contracts that protect the both the employer and apprentice in a fair way.
  13. malachi


    Joined: Jun 27, 2006

    Posts: 9,404

    Location: Earth

    Common sense but the government wants everyone to go to uni so they can profit from the fees not because they care about the education of the students.

    That's why we have Mickey Mouse degrees such as gender studies or social media studies.

    Also doesn't help you need a degree just to be a cleaner.
  14. Amp34


    Joined: Jul 25, 2005

    Posts: 28,751

    Location: Canada

    That’s basically the argument though. Realistically there isn’t a “risk”. It’s not debt in the same way any other debt is, it’s just a capped tax charged over a set amount.

    The idea someone intelligent is taking a risk is what needs to be drummed out of people. They’re almost always not. If the “gamble” fails then they probably won’t be paying any of the loan off because they won’t hit the repayment threshold. If their gamble pays off then the additional “tax” over the threshold for paying back the loan is by the by.

    This is something that needs to be told (and drummed in) to potential uni students time and time again. Whether you agree with tuition fees or not, they should not hold back any young person that legitimately thinks they can better themselves at university.

    As for your other idea - aptitude rests for reduced fee courses - perhaps a move towards a more North American style system would benefit there. You apply to a university only (not a specific course) and then your first year is a general year where you can do several subject, specialising in later years. The first year would be the screening test for the more sought after subjects. The negative being many people take the first year to really understand how uni works, and those that did well in the first year aren’t necessarily the best at the end of the third/fourth year.
  15. Amp34


    Joined: Jul 25, 2005

    Posts: 28,751

    Location: Canada

    I’d be careful about what you consider a “Micky Mouse” degree. many of the worst degrees in terms of employability and salaries are not the ones you may necessarily think of, and are quite regularly some of the more traditional university courses (politics, languages etc).


    Subjects like IT are also quite often low on the list of employability.

    A lot of it is not the type of course, or even the university (although there are some correlations with the latter), but specific courses.

    (I did a hard science, so no grudge about hating on “my” course).

    I think that part of the problem is that many of the worst performing degrees are prime examples of the apprenticeship drain over the years. Most of them would have been apprenticeships in the past, but are now degrees. Perhaps in part that’s because companies are less willing to mentor people now, and would rather people come to them with some pre existing “skills” (I.e. a degree).

    Creative arts, agriculture, health and social care and IT are all subject that are prime apprenticeship subjects, yet will regularly now need a degree. Unfortunately the increase in tuition fees that was meant make it similar to the international fee system seems to have failed abysmally. All the universities just upped their fees to the max, rather than applying any cost/benefit to them.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2019
  16. Mr C


    Joined: Sep 8, 2006

    Posts: 639

    There is a strong theory that the tuition fees help poorer students get into university. If fees are abolished or reduced the resulting shortfall would directly have to be made up by extra governmental expenditure.

    Although written back in 2017 i still think it rings true today.


    Of course you could argue that there are negatives with this policy too, why should students with poorer grades be allowed to attend university in the first place. I personally believe that, poorer (money) students are a product of their environment and university generally allows them to leave these environments and actually achieve their potential.

    I would on the other hand be happy to see reductions in tuition fees if the government also provides more incentives and creates a framework of equivalence for other forms of education such as apprenticeships, thereby allowing a broader range of opportunities for students.

    My major gripe with the fees is that they were no more than a governmental accounting cover up. The idea that almost anyone is going to be paying off their student debt is laughable:


    Referring to the table further down the page on the link you have to start at a £55,000 salary and end up 30 years later on £177,390 just to pay the loan off over 25 years (this includes a ton of interest).

    So where does the money for the gap (between what students have paid over 30 years and the actual cost) come from? The Government obviously, since they footed the bill in the first place, as noted in the article from 2018 in the Guardian.


    I'm not particularly a fan of the US system where people rack up insane amounts of debt, nor am i really impressed by "free" tuition as the same money still has to come from the government somewhere (and is used as an even bigger political football in election periods).

    I am quite happy with the way the fees are currently done, i would certainly like to see more incentives for universities to provide extra places for courses that are really necessary over those "mickey mouse" ones.

    Although, ANY degree is worth some value as it is not so much about its specialisation (unless directly related to a profession) but it directly encourages good practice of citations, referencing (the validity / reliability of sources), understanding academic text and critical thinking. Doesn't matter if it is Biology, Aeronautical engineering or Modern Art, almost all courses will require a student to locate, study, analyse and apply a level of critical thinking to a range of source material and it is these skills that really matter in the real world.
  17. jaybee


    Joined: Jul 10, 2008

    Posts: 4,873

    The last 3 jobs I got all listed a degree as required. I don't have one. I think this speaks for itself.
  18. Bear


    Joined: Oct 24, 2002

    Posts: 12,366

    Location: Bucks and Edinburgh

    Lots of job specs that get written up for vacancies are wish lists. If you dont have degree but have a wealth of decent experience then that trumps having a degree and infact a degree is usually only really a prerequisite when you first start out for certain roles. After 5+ years of experience, the degree is almost irrelevant.
  19. Adam-r


    Joined: Mar 20, 2015

    Posts: 163

    Location: North

    I think the original numbers of wanting 50% getting a degree was misguided. For certain degrees I think there should be a system whereby you pay the fees and say, after 2 years in that job they’re written off. If you want to study the history of dishwashers for example then great, but you should fund that yourself.
    We could even open it up to certain job types as well - you want to do a degree in business, no problem, but you’ll pay unless you can get 2/3/4 years working at a council or home office etc.
    The current level of 9k is too much though in my opinion, unless the quality and content of the courses has increased by 300% since I was there in 2002.
  20. D.P.


    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 30,214

    The problem with this attitude is who gets to decide which degrees are free? It also shows a complete misunderstanding of what a University degree is. it isn't a vocational course, they are not aimed purely to improve employee skills, that is just a useful side effect. As such degrees which you might not think as so useful such as philosophy actually end up being as useful if not more so than STEM subjects.

    As an example,I did a joint honours Artificial Intelligence and Psychology with a minor in CS. i can tell you by far the hardest and most useful courses were all from Psychology. If i had to pick 1 subject to instill useful employable skills for a majority of people that would have to be psychology over AI or computer science.

    planes is about to take off,more later