The merit of tuition fees


Putting aside Richard’s comments in “The free market is not suitable for university tuition fees” about being a “compassionate conservative” which I am sure did much to offend all other conservatives who are not in agreement with him on this issue. I feel I need to comment on his overall point. He is right; the university system isn’t comparable to other public services when it comes to free market options. Nor should it be – students should enrol at the best university they can attend, with the highest possible grades achieved at A Level – I am sure this is what we all did and this will be what students do in the future. The idea of a variable tuition fees system should not be misconstrued; it does not mean that money will become a more significant barrier to any person wishing to study in this country. I believe this system means that you pay for what you receive, for example, if you acquire a world class education at Oxbridge then you should pay accordingly. Is it the state’s problem if the opportunities that this education provides are thrown away, and not the fault of the individual? Money will not become any more of a barrier than it was previously, and surely a fairer system of price matching product and inspiring graduates to seize the advantages their degrees bring is ideal? You would only pay for this education when you are earning an appropriate amount of money and when you are feeling the benefits of this education in your wage packet. So yes Richard, money should not be a barrier to university; it is not and never will be.

I also for the same reason don’t accept that the less affluent will be pushed to the “worse universities”. Thanks to the fact that government stumps up the costs and you only pay it back when you are feeling the benefits, as previously mentioned. The only potential issue would be a misunderstanding of the finances behind university education, this is a personal finance issue and this is why I support Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert campaign to get financial education as a compulsory part of our education system. This will mean those leaving school will depart with a much greater understanding of how money management works and may even prevent them getting into bad debt later in life, and as Martin Lewis says, the student loan is “the best debt you will ever have”. So leaving aside the psychological misconception of student fees then this policy should also not become a barrier to social mobility.

Some would have you believe that this policy somehow damages our meritocracy. I am not sure what their definition of meritocracy is but I think it is a system where those that work hard and do well are rewarded and those that waste their opportunities are not. So this tuition fee policy reinvigorates our meritocracy, and does not detract from it. You pay for what you receive, and if you do not work hard and seize your opportunities, then you cannot leech off the success of others.

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