Wednesday 8 July 2015

Tories scrap uni grants

Let's start in 1966. I got offered a place in Cambridge via their entrance exam, I got great A levels (three As and a B) and there was no question about what would happen for my next three years. I went to university, and the government paid all my university fees (indeed, I wasn't actually aware that anything needed to be paid, since I was only 17 and not wise in the ways of the world). Furthermore, the government paid me £370 per year for spending on books, bridge and beer. So I got myself a degree, followed by a series of good jobs, and everything was great.

In 1998, the Labour government said that students had to pay £1000 per year for tuition. I could hardly believe my ears - that a Labour government would do such a thing? But it was true, and soon after, in 2004, that was increased, again by a Labour government, to £3000. And then in 2012, universities were allowed to charge up to £9000 per year, and the majority of them did.

This is awful. Our children are our future, and education is important. In the 2015 election, UKIP said that they would abolish fees for students of science, maths and engineering, a policy that made me actually think about the possibility of voting for them (but other things about UKIP outweighed that).

In Germany - no tuition fees, it's paid out of taxation. In France, 188 euros per year. If you look through all the countries in Europe, tuition fees are either zero, or less than £1000.

And now it's 2015, and George Bloody Osborne has just announced that the one chance for students from low income families is about to be taken away.

So explain this to me. How come in 1966, our government was able to pay for my university education (plus give me a grant to spend), but 50 years later, after 50 years of economic growth, we can't afford it?

George Bloody Osborne says that over the next decade, the cost of supporting low-income students will rise to £3 billion. I say, that's money well spent. What we get for it, is a million educated children, and that's an absolute bargain. It's an investment in each person that will pay dividends for the next 50 years, and all it will cost is a tiny fraction of the cost of HS2, which has a more doubtful dividend.


  1. Well said, but why does UKIP not support Arts subject? Is English Literature 'not a real subject'
    Lots of love,
    Daughter. 2

    SilverSpoon London

  2. I don't know, you'll have to ask Nigel.

  3. Meanwhile, "industry" is always banging on about universities not providing sufficient qualified students for their needs. Maybe there is a case for grants for those reading those "in demand" degrees?