Parental wealth

December 6, 2002

Your leader "Students must be convinced of a degree's value" ( THES , November 29) gets straight to the heart of the matter: "parental income, rather than graduate prospects, determines whether and at what level charges are levied". Quite so.

But one is surely then forced to wonder just why our socialist government chooses to focus on a single measure - current parental income while dependants are learning - as the touchstone for charges. Surely this measure capriciously focuses just on the three-year window when offspring are in university education?

I can think of many families where accumulated wealth far transcends current income as a measure of ability to pay. Surely total net worth, rather than the essentially transient notion of current parental income, is a more robust measure of ability to pay.

For example, many people find that their current income is stagnant while others find that the value of their major asset - their home - is rising at more than 20 per cent a year. Perhaps a deconstruction of the notion of ability to pay will be the next battleground for those for whom the concept of wider societal benefit remains a concept too far.

Alan Hallsworth
Alsager, Cheshire

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