Wait for the loan drop-outs

April 21, 1995

In your editorial "No More Fool's Gold" (THES, April 7) you mischievously compare the National Union of Students' decision to consider loan aid with Labour leader Tony Blair's abandonment of Clause IV.

You commend as desirable the aim of still broadening or even "socialising" adult access to further education so that, in theory, all can afford to take up presently "unused" places. But the danger in what both you and Labour MP Bryan Davies, shadow further and higher education minister, is the trendy abandonment of of a better state grant system to do this.

The North American experience is clear: a loan system gets more bourgeois students into the system in the first two years of a four-year bachelor's. But they drop fast out massively - 50 to 60 per cent. The remainder take exhausting day jobs while university administrations become dependent on business grant handouts or politically unsupportable social state tax hikes.

Laurence Iles

58 The Drive

Hove, Sussex

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