Sunday, 1 August 2010

Why Graduate Tax is Unfair

Why is a graduate tax unfair?
Because it will be paid by the wrong people or not paid at all.

Consider this. For a start, not every graduate of a British university is going to stay in this country after they get their degree. A very high percentage of them will be driven abroad by our recession and by the fact that there is pressure of competition here for jobs. There is no way at all that you can make the ones who leave this country pay a graduate tax! What about the students who drop out without completing the course? They will not be graduates so will not have to pay any graduate tax. Yet they cost the country just the same amount of money. Students who come here from an EU country, as more and more nowadays do, get subsidized by the British taxpayer at a rate of £4,000 per year. When their degree course is over, they can go back to their own country, leaving the graduate tax to be paid by the British residents. There is absolutely no way we can force them to pay once they leave. Imagine the legal costs of trying to sue thousands of former students. Many of them are already defaulting on the loans we were foolish enough to give them in past decades.
Meanwhile, many British graduates will see the advantages of going to live and work in countries which do NOT have a graduate tax. So we will lose the skills we so much need.
Altogether, the idea of a graduate tax is grossly unfair and unworkable. If graduates get good, well-paid jobs they already pay a lot of tax. It is unjust to penalize people for acquiring skills.

When I went to university, we did not have to pay fees. In fact, I got a grant. Since then, the right to higher education in this country has steadily been eroded, as a result of bad government and financial mismanagement. EU membership is a foolish waste of money and has many invisible harmful costs. We are told we must bankrupt ourselves to bail out Greece, and shell out for MEPs to enjoy a champagne lifestyle in Brussels, yet we cannot afford higher education, in which we once led the world. That is proof of the failure of Labour and Tory policies.

It is true that we now send a higher percentage of school-leavers to university, probably more than we should. But the reason universities have had to expand and let them in, is that successive governments, Labour or Tory, have gone on cutting their financial support for the universities so that they have had to rely on more fee-paying students, just to survive.
The result is that standards have fallen in universities, while students have been loaded with debt. We should be ashamed of this situation. Why is it that a student who has worked hard, got good A-levels and wants to do a worthwhile job such as being a doctor or teacher, is told to borrow money to pay for it, while another teenager the same age, who wastes their time at school and gets pregnant or takes drugs, is entitled to claim money on benefits? This does not look fair to me.
Earlier this year, the government tried to reduce the number of foreign students from outside the EU coming to this country. Yet these students pay far more than UK applicants and the universities rely on them for income. The policy is nonsense, and it also verges on racism. Why should a student from France have priority over a student from China?
As usual, UKIP is the only party whose policies are completely non-racist.
It is nonsense to say that the country cannot afford universities. True the Labour goverment left the economy in tatters, but look at the average standard of living. Did people have two cars, foreign holidays, central heating, or home computers in 1944 when the original Education Act was passed? Did they expect to eat avocadoes and smoked salmon, which we see on the supermarket shelves all the yar round nowadays? Of course not. Yet we could afford free university access for all who achieved a high enough standard. If this country were not so badly run we could afford it again, at least for the top ten per cent of school leavers.
Take a look at LibDem hypocrisy. Before the election they were saying that they were totally opposed to students paying university fees. Then they got a chance to share power with the Conservatives and walk in the corridors of Whitehall. They got an opportunity to get their feet underneath the cabinet table and their bums on the limousine seats. (Not to mention the ministerial salaries). So they neatly side-stepped. They now say that they will support, condone and justify this unfair policy of a graduate tax instead of student fees. Call it by a different name and they'll support it. They have sold out on any principles they ever pretended to have. Just what you would expect from slippery characters like Lawes and Huhne.

Do any of them volunteer to pay graduate tax themselves? Of course not!!