Student Finance - the Options
Regardless of reports in the press, I have not yet made up my mind as to which way to vote. I cannot practically do this until the government has produced any proposals. However, in terms of the debate some things are clear:
Ideally tertiary education should be funded directly from general
taxation. That is not an option so there are various options.
1. Up front fees.
2. A graduate tax (an open ended tax)
3. Up front fees with an option of the government providing a loan
4. A scheme which shares the burden between graduates on the basis of
their earnings (not their parents' wealth), but which is not an open ended
"pure" graduate tax.
What would you pick?
I think the fourth option is the fairest (or most socially just) because it shares the cost of tertiary education between graduates on the basis of the income of the graduates.
This does, however, require the option of an up front payment without penalty being removed. It also requires more work on the calculation of the net present value of the graduate's contributions. I have done some initial work and although some graduates would pay nothing, Quite a few would have a net present value of something like 5K. However, there are questions as to what happens as people go up the income scale.
The graduate tax itself causes financial problems as it does not provide the cash today, but a gradual increase and we (the UK) need the cash today.
What option 4 does is package together students for financing purposes where some make greater contributions and some make lesser contributions.