Pay before you earn?

July 5, 2002

If graduates earn £400,000 more across a lifetime than non-graduates, then they should contribute to the costs of their degrees ("Degree is ticket to rich job pickings", THES , June 28). Although ministers quote such figures to justify fees and loans, I have never heard the justification for asking potential graduates to pay before they have earned the premium. Paying beforehand is a deterrent to precisely those whom the government hopes to attract. Would it not be wiser to ask them to pay once they have earned the premium? Indeed, that is what they are already doing through the taxation system. They do not simply pocket the "extra" £400,000.

Brian V. Street
Professor of language in education
University College London

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