Monday, 16 January 2012

I Melt the Glass with my Forehead

I've spent some time this evening watching a documentary with the estimable title "I melt the glass with my forehead".  It's about the (mostly) recent history of the route to moving to £9000 tuition fees for University education in England.  I don't agree with all the commentators necessarily, but it seems pretty reasonable, and is quite damning of the process.  It's slightly more equivocal about the outcome, but not a great deal.

I'm no fan of the new system.  I found myself chiming with the quoted words of Lord Robbins, chair of an old review of higher education, who said that he thought education should be available to all who need it.  I don't see higher education as a commodity, as if it were only a matter of getting training to get a higher salary, and that no other benefit to society as a whole were gained.  Or as if there were a dividing line between A-level and a degree, after which education is selfish. This is the most insidious point in all the arguments that are ever made, I think.  One commentator in the documentary said that Oxford could charge £25k fees, so students there were effectively being subsidised.  I doubt that I would have gone there from my comprehensive school if the fees were like that.  The market is not the only way to see the world.   If you really believe that the point of education is to make the people that have it richer, then support progressive taxation.  If you don't, stop using all that money from the poor hardworking families to support schools.