The university tuition fees furore seems, on the face of it, to be turning into an intractable problem. All these “universities” – and I use the word in the very broadest sense – planning to charge top dollar, a mighty £9000 per annum.
The Knife cannot find it in himself to warm to the remarkably useless Vince Cable who, on the face of it, is in the firing line . However, as I see it, there is a happy ending here, in the shape of our old and reliable friends the market forces.
Speaking as someone currently bearing the cost of university education , I am absolutely certain that neither I nor my offspring would be willing to cough up a minimum of £27,000 PLUS living expenses, for a degree in almost anything from a rubbish university – and there are lots of them. I would question the merit of doing the same for a degree in a crap subject from a good university, again, lots of that kind of course out there.
So I predict – and I’m fairly sure that Dave ‘n’ George do too – that give it a few years and many of these courses, and some of these institutions, will have bitten the dust. It will take several years of students realising that they’re chucking money away to achieve this, but it will happen. The financial environment in even the best of British universities is such that Principals will be ruthless in cutting out the dead wood.
The corollary is that the good will thrive, but it will cost. No doubt the value-for-money degree courses (in English) over the Channel in places like Maastricht will thrive too. All this is good, and a long overdue corrective to Tony Blair’s insane expansion of worthless degree courses, and John Major’s bizarre plan to turn any old college into a “university”. However, when you add these two meddlers’ efforts to Gordon Brown’s epic attempt to bankrupt one of the most dynamic economies in the world, there is no doubt that the free at the point of source education enjoyed by The Knife, Brown and Blair has probably gone forever. Quite a big change on the face of post-war Britain.
Vince, you may be useless, but you’re on safe ground here. Give it a few years.