Friday, 11 June 2010

The resilience of public spending...

University is now all over until October. I picked up my final mark, my best yet, 75% for my essay on the voluntary sector. Now the hard part; figuring how I'm going to pay my tuition fees next year. It really is a struggle particularly as post-grad there is very little in the way of support. Whenever fees are mentioned my ears invariably prick-up. So it was with interest I heard David Willetts talking on the radio yesterday. He actually made a really good point which summed up just how hard it is to cut government spending. If fees are increased then loans and other financial support need to be increased, as these are mainly funded by the government you are really only shifting spending around. In addition to this making anything means tested also results in a huge amount of admin, an appeals process etc which ends up making things very expensive.

Personally I favour a graduate tax. My first degree was almost 10 years ago and as I didn't do great in the earnings stakes I still haven't reduced the capital and have not yet had a year where I met the interest. Because the loan has grown by so much I'm also unlikely to in the next few years so I am in fact paying a de-facto 10% tax on my earnings over 15k and will do for quite some time. This perverse effect means people like me who do less well out of a degree end up paying far more over the long term. The fairest system would then seem to be a graduate tax. If you do well then great you pay a bit more. If you don't do so well ,maybe you're working in the public sector or volunteering, then you pay less. Seems fairer to me.

The big issue is also one of equality. My university is red brick and I must be the only person there not decked out in Hollister or A& F topped off with some flip-flops. That the institution is horribly middle-class, not to mention young, is painfully visible by the sartorial choices of its members. Personally I'd prefer more diversity. I'd like to see more variety of age too, in fact I think I'm gaining far more from university now I am older and have more experience. I certainly know what the price of a 2:2 is!

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