Well, the snow’s are melting, any of you’s know the clyde was part frozen over. Anyway, the bad news is a thaw means the risk of burst pipes rises, so for anyone in an old tenement building like me its time to worry. One or two of the houses down the road from me is already pissing water out the door. I tried to take good care of my pipework (whahoo!) but there’s little I could do for the stuff in the attic because (a) its locked (not that this was a problem in my last place, we just undid the screws, great security guys!) and (b) my ladders not tall enough. So a tense wait to see if I get flooded. I have my rubber ducky at the ready just in case.
Anyway the students were supposed to walk out of uni today in protest against the new tuition fees down in London….problem is its exam time so I doubt many students decided that the English paying tuition fees was a good reason to have to repeat a semester, a little forward planning next time guys! Anyway, half the students have bunked off to enjoy the snow and give themselves an extra months study I assume. Students these days don’t know how luck they are, in my day we didn’t even have any genuine grievance to go on strike over, not that this put us off!
On the topic I think the increased fees idea is a bad one. It’s going to lead to an American style system where only those who can afford to go to uni do so and students are feeling obliged to pick a course that will give them an income sufficient to pay off theyre loads rather than something they are genuinely interested in. If theres one word of advice someone who lectures can give students, pick a course youre interested in, cos youll be sick of it after 4 years. If you like physics, but do a business studies because youre afraid you wont get a job with a physics degree, chances are you wont hack it and will drop out midway through the business studies course, probably right before you have to go through the ceremony pledging youre soul to Beelzebub (or is that with law degrees?). This will also mean departments closing in some universities. All well and good, until we need them again. For example, if youre in favour of nuclear energy (Im not, but just saying), who is going to build and run these plants? Theres only a handful of universities in the country that do nuclear engineering, so not only will the UK have to get the French to build the damn things (and the uranium off the Russians), but it will be French engineers running the plants (Viva la France!). Arseytechure is now suffering due to the downturn, but it will presumably come back sometime, but not if all the architecture departments have closed.
Also a fee based situation puts pressure on lecturers to pass students, even if they know there work is sub-standard, as the lecturers know that people paying for education tend to kick up a right old stink if their years of tuition comes to nought (even if ultimately its the students fault for not doing the work). There was a big fuss about this a few years ago when several leaks came out of several leading universities revealing this was already happening with international students, so its a trend that will likely continue. The danger here is, standards will drop and youre degree wont be worth the paper its written on (or at least it wont be perceived that way by industry).
On the other hand the status quo, or indeed wholly government funded tuition isnt an option either. While I have no problem with it, theres enough Daily Mail readers complaining about lazy students to make the idea unpopular and there is a risk that when governments winds up in a penny pinching mood (generally whenever the DM readers are running the gaff!) the universities suffer. My suspicion is we need a bit of both, some government funding, but also some funding from students or industry. However, any student funding should be directly related towards ones ability to pay and not some random arbitrary tax.
£9,000 a year is way too much, when you consider how students living expenses for 4 years will greatly increase this figure (£40,000 in debt is a figure being banded around). A big problem right now is that nobody is saving, not for retirement, not for a rainy day, nothing. And with interests at 0.5%, and the fact that you get penalised for having savings by the benefits system why should you! And now that students are going to be finishing uni with ridiculously high debts around their neck this trend can only worsen. This does not bode well for nations finances as everyones going to be looking for a state pension and no ones going to be able to pay it. That alone is good enough reason no to impose such a charge like this.
My advice, dont retire ever! And if you get a degree with the new system, youll only get taxed if you earn over £21,000 a year, so make sure you dont get paid more than that ..at least anyway the tax man can see. Course while Im just joking I can guarantee you the Phil Greens of this world will already be working out loopholes to avoid these tuition fees ..so maybe we should include a module on tax law which we teach to all classes and courses!
There was also a protest this week against Sir Green, owner of Top(tax dodger)shop, (un)British Homo stores and various other high (fraud)street stores. For those of you not in the know Sir Phil Green is officially resident in Monaco, flies in to London every Monday and checks in to a 5 star hotel for a few days (so as to not pay council tax) then jets back home. He pays no income tax and when the Beeb interviewed him about these protests he had the nerve to complain about the tax his company pays (i.e corporation tax and income tax), sure god love ya boy! Now the guy is an advisor to the government, along with his other tax shy buddy lord Arsecroft are now government advisors!(an aside, I know Im from foreign shores, but to qualify for a title in this country do you basically have to be a lying, thieving Bast$%D of some kind or other?) And strangely enough theyre advice does not involve balancing the UKs budget by clamping down on tax dodgers like them, now theres a surprise!