Higher education students in Scotland pay no fees at all. Their government - and our tax - covers the full cost. Meanwhile higher-education students in England have to pay £9,000 per year and they have their living expenses on top of that. Such a glaring inequity makes Scottish discontent and SNP demands for independence ridiculous. We are subsidizing them and we are the ones who should be complaining.
When university fees in England reached £3,000 per year, politicians of the LibLabCon got a bit embarrassed and the Libdems made noisy promises that they would reduce it to nil. This was a key factor in their 2010 General Election Campaign and we all know what happened. As soon as Nick Clegg got into power in the Coalition, he gave the green light to tripling university fees. Overnight they leapt up from £3,000 to £9,000. Then he released a video of himself saying "I'm sAAAry..." Not half so sorry as the foolish youngsters who had voted for him.
Now university chiefs are saying that things are going to get worse. Prof. Nick Petford, vice-chancellor of Northampton university, predicts that fees will have to go up to £20,000 per year to meet the rising costs of running the institutions. A report published by the umbrella group Universities UK in November this year said that the present level of fees only serves to make up for the government cuts in funding. It does not cover the anticipated steep rise in running costs over the next few years. Already universities are having to rely on non-government sources to fund new buildings and facilities. Those of us who went to university get begging letters coming through the door regularly.
Two other university vice-chancellors have said publicly that the limit on university fees should be lifted. Sir Christopher Snowden the vice-chancellor of Surrey University and Sir Andrew Hamilton the vice-Chancellor of Oxford University have both called for fees to be raised in line with inflation and the cost of a degree. This would be £16,000 per year at Oxford - and rising.
There is a massive black hole in the universities' pension funding, in the order of £10.5 billion. To be able to pay it, universities would have to raise fees by at least £1,000 per year. The universities minister David Willets denies that this government will allow more fee hikes, but does not say how the pensions are to be paid. I wait to see how soon he will make the typical politicians' U-turn. A financial analyst said "We are bequeathing a very real problem to our children."
Prof Petford now says that some universities "with high
brand value will be able to charge £17,000, £18,000 or £20,000 in the future -
I am sure of that".
With such a burden of debt, how will future graduates be able to afford a house? The parents and grandparents of present-day students paid huge amounts of tax on their earnings, savings, and purchases - even the purchase of a house - because they were told they were paying for a "welfare state". Education was supposed to be free - right? The result would be that we have all the trained teachers, scientists, doctors and nurses that we need - right? Wrong. We are in a total mess.
The government keeps blaming the banking crisis, but they're determined to squander our money on everything apart from the needs of English people. The LibLabCon are all identical EU-rophiles and our contributions to the Brussels extravaganza are more than £1 billion per month. Who gets rich from that? It doesn't create any jobs in England, quite the reverse. The only people doing well out of that are the LibLabCon MEPs who live the high life at Brussels and Strasbourg, passing thousands of stupid laws and obstructive regulations.
Most of them went to university when it really was free. Shame on them for not passing on what they had to the next generation. They talk about equality and fairness but it is all hot air.
We need a basic change of direction in this country and that means the old politicians have got to go.
Lenten Meditations: Saturday 25 March
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