Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Student protests and fees

Today's student protests will gain far more attention than any the preceded it over the last ten years. The violence will see to that but I expect there to be a positive trade-off from this - that alongside reports of the unrest will be an analysis of the issues involved. That hasn't happened as much as it should, I just hope the real issues are not over shadowed. 
Those pushing the changes through in the coalition didn't have to pay for their own education, though many did through pri. What worries me most about this is that charging students even more will cause further social problems with a long time lag. These issues were not addressed by the Browne review. At the moment most graduates spend most of their 20s paying off their loans. When fees double or treble this will take people almost half way through their working life before they pay it all off well into their 40s in some cases. As a result many graduates won't save for a pension or to buy a house. I fear the hike in tuition fees will have far greater implications than may of those waving the legislation through have even considered. 

With an ageing population which already saves too little for retirement and with first time buyers priced out because they can't save big enough deposits is heaping even more debt onto them really a good idea? I don't expect the coalition to u-turn, Tories never do. 

The dénouement will take some time. The first effect is likely to be that the Lib Dems who campaigned so hard for the student vote will lose many of their university seats such as Sheffield Hallam, Nick Clegg's seat; Manchester Withington, John Leech, held by only 4%; and those in Bristol, Cambridge and Leeds. That reckoning will come in five years. The rest will wait, but could be serious.

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