Let the dukes subsidise the dustmen

Good comment piece by Roy Hattersley in today’s Grauniad on ways of solving the funding crisis in UK higher education without recourse to the £6000+ tuition fees that various universities are threatening (Imperial College and Warwick, my first university, being the chief culprits). Hattersley, as sensible as ever (shame he’s not still on the front benches), advocates a graduate tax as a progressive source of funding that properly reflects the advantage that a degree confers on a graduate, unlike the fees-and-loans fiasco, and goes so far as to say that such a tax should be “levied on all graduates, not just those who take their degrees after this year” and that “it will be possible to limit it to comparatively high earnings”. If only…

For those of you who haven’t exiled yourselves to the UK HE gulag, this article by Richard Gombrich gives a good summary of the current state of UK HE (and its decline and fall over the last four decades) which pulls very few punches. The statistics on HE funding (particularly for resources like libraries) and pay are particularly sobering.

Other relevant reading includes the Dearing Report on Higher Eduction in the Learning Society – of particular note are the sections on increasing student maintenance (ie. grants) and HE pay and graduate taxation as a source of funding. The Bett Report (on the Independent Review of Higher Education Pay and Conditions, and a snip at £80 from HMSO – summary available elsewhere, with contemporary coverage from the BBC) made a number of recommendations on HE pay and funding, most of which have been duly ignored. The BBC has good general coverage on the issue, as always.

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