Dodgy arguments 1

August 15, 2003

Contrary to the THES editorial ("Rebel MPs must face reality over top-up fees", THES , August 8), the reality faced by Labour backbenchers in the higher education debate is that they now have almost certainly the last opportunity to correct the inclinations of a leadership promulgating policies for which the closest description is "Thatcherite".

What might be termed the "unifee dossier" is even more dubious than the Iraqi model. The core moral argument for tuition fees is that the graduate will earn more than someone who has not completed a degree and should therefore make a contribution to their value-added education. This ignores the fact that the average graduate, ten years into employment, is likely to be earning no more than a plumber, a bricklayer, a police officer or an army sergeant. The taxpayer will have paid for training in these cases too, but no one is arguing for tuition fees for further education or for a special tax on police officers and soldiers.

Top-up fees will restrict the best education to those best able to afford it, and the remainder - save the charity cases - will have to make do with overfull institutions lacking the resources to offer genuine higher-level education. Of course, the unifee dossier has carefully hidden the fact that tax on the value-added element (alone) of the degree-holder's lifetime earnings covers the cost of providing the extra education five or six times over.

The taxpayer's "profit" from the investment in higher education hugely outweighs the initial input. The moral argument is bankrupt and the economic argument non-existent.

Andrew J. Morgan
University of Wales Swansea

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns