John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Monday, December 13, 2010
  NUS Support Progressive Graduate Contribution
Looking in more detail at the NUS website some things are clear.

1. this page confirms:

NUS's Aaron Porter saying:
"Graduates might have to contribute more overall, but that must not involve higher student debt on graduation or the cap on fees coming off, as we suspect the Browne review will recommend."

2. This page has the following:

"With the outcome of Lord Browne’s review of higher education funding in England expected in early October, Cable's announcement sends a clear message to Lord Browne that a crude increase in tuition fees is not an acceptable outcome nor one that the Liberal Democrats would back."

NUS Scotland saying:
"Although we should look first to the state and businesses to fulfil their responsibilities to higher education, a progressive graduate contribution, which only kicks in when you see a genuine financial benefit, and explicitly increases the amount students have in their pocket while they study, is certainly something we should consider in Scotland."

What can we conclude from this. Firstly that the NUS are not opposed to graduates collectively paying more. Secondly, that they would support a "progressive graduate contribution."

I read into this as well that initially they would not have minded an increase in the fee level as long as it wasn't a "crude increase", they have now moved away from this position as it is politically hard to defend.

Now I am entirely content to accept that there are different types of "progressive graduate contribution". However, it is also clear that the NUS and the Government are not that far apart on the basic principle that it is not unreasonable for graduates to make an additional contribution as long as it is the better off graduates paying more.

To me the big issue that needs to be sorted out (and I believe it should be possible to do this) is the issue of debt.

There is no need to see the payments post graduation as being debt. From many perspectives they won't be debt.

If someone dies - it is not debt.
If someone goes bankrupt - it is not debt.
If someone gets a mortgage - it is not debt.
From the perspective of credit reference - it is not debt.

The question I ask, therefore, is why it is called debt at all. There is a need for the government to raise the funds secured against the revenue stream from the graduate contributions.

However, this already happens when a record company signs a band. The record company invests in the band and then gets a stream of profits (hopefully) from the band.

The same principles can apply with government investing in students' education and then securing the finance on that against a revenue stream from the graduates as they progress.

To me this would be a lot better. Actually it is much the same numerically, but it means graduating without thinking about debt. If you think about how much tax you have to pay then over the years it is going to be a big figure. However, it is only payable if you earn the income.
 
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