My views on university education – in full!

I think some clarification is in order after yesterday’s ‘interesting’ article in The Echo, reporting my views on going to university, as well as Cllr Julian Gabriel St. John Ware-Lane’s half-cocked scathing attack on ‘my’ views.

 

Firstly a few facts:

 

  • I passed a test to go to my secondary school – and that test did not include “how big is daddy’s cheque book”.

 

  • Both my mother and father were/are teachers. I am not from Etonian Bullingdon stock.

 

  • Cllr Ware-lane will soon realise that whilst press coverage is easier to come by once elected, the press tend to look for different things!

 

  • The echo report was very selective of my views.

 

The report itself:

 

I had an unsolicited telephone call regarding more students going to university in Europe than before, due to tuition fees increasing in the UK.

 

There are three comments that I feel need clarification. If anyone wants Clarification on others please let me know.

 

1. That I don’t support people going to university for the sake of it.

2. .. It’s right for universities to charge a reasonable amount of money otherwise you end up with second class degrees.

3. Some will go to Europe, that will be the upper, middle classes but you will have the odd person from a poorer background that will do that.

 

 

1. That I don’t support people going to university for the sake of it.

 

Firstly it would he helpful if, when giving a direct quote, the rather short sentence was quoted in full: “I support people being as educated as possible, but I don’t support people going to university for the sake of it”.

 

Quoting the former Secretary of State for Education, Charles Clarke: “education for education’s sake is a bit dodgy”, may make the Ware-Lane’s of this world cringe, but it doesn’t really go to answering the question.

 

University is NOT for everyone. When the labour government introduced a target of 50% of 18 year olds to go to university I gasped. Why should we almost force students to go on to further education that is not right for them? To suggest that university is the only option at 18 is just plan wrong. However, as I said in the full quote, I support people being as educated as possible.

 

In Southend we have, to name a few, other options to allow young people to continue their education:

 

Apprenticeships,

A college of further education

NVQ courses

 

Some students are not suited for university and therefore it is only right we offer a wide range of additional education options for all. Degree equivalent qualifications are not uncommon in the workplace with accountancy being one that comes to mind.

 

I certainly do not support people going to university for the sake of it and expecting the person on £15,000 a year, with no benefits paying £2,438 in tax and NI (2011/12 tax year) having to pay for it. For that belief I will not apologise!

 

2. … It’s right for universities to charge a reasonable amount of money otherwise you end up with second class degrees.

 

Value for money is very important. Best value even more so. It is not helpful having artificially low fees being charged by universities, as this would lead to lower standards of courses. I don’t think that’s rocket science.

 

It is worthy of note that, under the Conservative led government:

 

 

  • No-one will have to pay anything upfront.

 

  • Earn nothing? Pay back nothing.

 

  • The earnings threshold for graduates repaying student loans has increased from £15,000 to £21,000. This will now increase with average earnings

 

  • Repayments have actually decreased – if you earn £21k a year you will repay £45 a month less than under the Labour Government

 

  • All outstanding debts will be written off after 30 years. More than half of graduates will have something written off.

 

 

Students are not being asked to pay for their fees upfront. They are not being asked to repay them until they are earning more money than before.

 

For universities wishing to charge over £6,000 a year they will have to do more to encourage and widen access to those from the poorest background.

 

I do think being asked to pay, only if you earn enough (otherwise you don’t pay and it gets written off!), for your university degree is reasonable. I draw your attention back to the person above on £15,000 a year – should he pay for the bankers to get their degrees?!

 

 

3. Some will go to Europe, that will be the upper, middle classes but you will have the odd person from a poorer background that will do that.

 

Now I will admit to cringing when I read the way this was reported. I do believe that the students from more affluent backgrounds are more likely to go to Europe than those who are from less affluent backgrounds. It might not make sense for poorer students to stay in the UK, but are they really more likely to go to Europe to save a few quid? I doubt it.

 

But my point was that this is wrong! Students from all backgrounds should go to university where ever they can get the best degree for them. I think give the breath of universities we have in the UK most people could find an appropriate course here.

 

 

University does help both the individual with their chances in life and also society as a whole that benefits from an increasing educated society. There I think it is right that society stumps up the cash for you to go to university and if you start to benefit from it financially then you are asked to pay back into the system to let the next lot of students go to university, once again free at the point of use.

 

As the Executive Councillor for Children & Learning, I will let central government get on with sorting out university education and put my time and effort in to ensuring more students get 5 good GCSE passes, including English and Maths.

Advertisements

About jamescourtenay

Local Southend resident, since before I can remember. I am hoping to represent the residents of Blenheim Park Ward after the May 2011 Local Elections. Straight Talking? - Yes. Approachable? - Yes. Accountable? - Yes. See my blog to find out how!
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to My views on university education – in full!

  1. Julia Greenwood says:

    The problem with the fees for university is not just the fees, that can to some extent be justified but what is NOT acceptable is the interest and the way in which it is calculated that the students have to pay. This is the factor which is making the difference.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s