Poll to tax the brain

January 13, 1995

Can I add my voice to that diminishing minority questioning the efficacy of a graduate tax ("How are sound degrees to be paid for?" THES, January 6)?

Each year almost half our graduates enter the teaching profession; many others begin careers in nursing and health and social care.

Those programmes attract well-qualified and commited candidates despite the modest rewards that their career choice will bring.

To add to the burden of additional taxation to those earning marginally above the probable threshold, particularly at a time in which many will take on substantial property debts and child-rearing commitments, can only lessen the attractiveness of such careers.

Similarly, many institutions have made valuable, if insufficient, progress in attracting mature candidates and those from working-class backgrounds. Can we be convinced that a graduate tax will facilitate wider participation even in the unlikley event of the resources being channelled back into higher education? Rather than taxing qualifications, does not a tax on earnings, which will, of course, still affect graduates disproportionately, seem more equitable?

John CATER Director Edge Hill College St HelensRoad Ormskirk Lancashire

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