Monday, September 26, 2011

more on tuition fees

What should we make of Labour’s newly-announced policy on tuition fees (BBC news article, Guardian article)? If we’re meant to be grateful that they’re less than the current fees, then all I can say is, if this is game theory, I find it extremely depressing. I recommend (most of) the comments that Guardian readers appended to the Guardian article linked-to above.

The fee cut is said to “fully-costed”: it is paid for with some sort of graduate tax on high-earning graduates, and a raise in tax on banks. In which case, they should explain why the following measures quoted from this article, are completely uncosted:
His [Ed Balls] five-point growth plan includes:

  • Repeating the bank bonus tax - and using "the money to build 25,000 affordable homes and guarantee a job for 100,000 young people"

  • Bringing forward long-term investment projects, such as schools, roads and transport, to create jobs

  • Reversing January's "damaging" VAT rise now for a temporary period

  • Immediate one-year cut in VAT to 5% on home improvements, repairs and maintenance

  • One-year national insurance tax break "for every small firm which takes on extra workers, using the money left over from the government's failed national insurance rebate for new businesses"

How come all the above goodies don’t have to be paid for by some other revenue-raising measures? They simply can’t have it both ways.

On a happier note, this article argues that by cutting tuition fees, you reduce CPI inflation, which in turn reduces the amount the state needs to pay to pensioners and welfare claimants. To the extent that maybe a cut in tuition fees automatically pays for itself!

(Added 28.9.11:) Meanwhile, we have an alternative white paper produced by a campaign led by senior academics... but where has the UCU gone — why are they not joining in? Now that Labour want fees nearly as high as the Tories, can we expect the UCU’s opposition to fade away?

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