University tuition fee rises may end up taxpayers more than scheme it replaced

The Coalition’s £9,000-a-year tuition fee hike could cost taxpayers more than the scheme it replaced, a think-tank has warned. A £1bn-a-year “black hole” in university funding shows that the rushed tuition fee reforms are coming back to haunt both the Lib Dems and the Tories, despite all their claims that the reforms would save the country money.

The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) says that the government “seriously understated” the cost of its higher education reforms and will either have to implement drastic cuts to student numbers or ask graduates to make higher repayments – a result that will deeply embarrass the Lib Dems.

So as well as having an impact on social mobility, lumping a lifetime of debt on future graduates and deterring future students from attending higher education, the drastic cuts to higher education will actually end up costing taxpayers more in the long run. However, this was clear from the start, and it has often been said that you do not cut public spending in a recession. This government’s policies may reduce debt in the short run, but in the longer-term the “austerity” programs may lead to irreparable damage to the public sector, to education, and to the UK as a whole.

None of this is new, however. A report published in 2010 stated that with state funding for University teaching being cut by a monumental 80% by 2014-15, the government will have to borrow more to fund the higher loans and pick up a bigger bill for those debts “written off” after 30 years; The report argued this will leave taxpayers worse off.

This is what happens when austerity reforms are pushed through as legislation before MP’s have had a chance to properly review and debate the proposals. The student protests of 2010 fell on deaf ears. It’s clear that either the Coalition MP’s who passed this legislation were either so short-sighted, they could not see the implications of their reforms, or the reforms themselves were ideologically-driven. But the Tories are anything but ideologically-driven, right?

Minister for Women and Equality scraps Harman’s equality law

Theresa May - Home Secretary and minister for ...

Image by ukhomeoffice via Flickr

Theresa May favours “fairness” over “equality”

In a glorious act of doublethink, the Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May has scrapped a key piece of legislation under the Equality Act, favouring a greater emphasis on the dubious word “fairness” rather than “equality”. Perhaps she misread her job title.

The legislation was a legal requirement that would have forced public authorities to take disadvantage and inequalities into account, to assess whether or not they were addressing inequalities when making policy decisions. The measure was an important part of the Equality Act passed earlier this year by Labour’s former minister for equalities, Harriet Harman. Theresa May dismissed the legislation as “ridiculous” and described the measure as “socialism in one clause”.

“They thought they could make people’s lives better by simply passing a law saying that they should be made better”, May said. Clearly Harman had been taking her job title too seriously when she passed the equality measure, a trap May is ensuring she does not fall into. The problem with the word ‘equality’, May went on, “is that it has been seen to mean equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity”. Which is clearly a bad thing. Continue reading