Today the funding of Universities is centre stage. Of relevance to me as my eldest daughter is expecting to head off to University next year (yes I know, surely I’m not old enough – regrettably I am!). Anyway, long story short a fairly bitter fight has been raging between Universities who argue that they are seriously underfunded and the students (and their parents) who by and large have increasingly become educational consumers/customers who have a growing desire for value for money.

I’m probably a traditionalist, but to my mind education is a good thing and its function is probably almost as important as the subject studied. So I’m in favour of studying and arguably it is a good part of personal development to leave home and become independent.

The short message is that students will have to pay more for their courses, Universities have been granted permission to charge more, but only the first £6,000 will be completely underwritten (paid for) by the Government. I estimate that we will quickly see tuition fees rise pushing the £6,000 price tag over the next 3 years. The proposals also go on to alter Student loans, which will now have a market rate of interest applied when the student begins repayment, but until they can afford to do so the debt will also increase in line with inflation. The loan will only be repaid if the student finds work that generates an income of over £21,000 (a first year teacher, doctor..).

The final detail is due to be released later next week, but most Universities and students can expect costs to rise – considerably. The NUS (National Union of Students) are pretty fed up as you might imagine and argue that many students will end up making decisions for their course based upon cost rather than content. I understand the sentiment, but frankly this applies to all walks of life doesn’t it?

The lesson for UKplc… regrettably we cannot have everything we want, there are limited resources. However, this is not new and frankly is a little patronising. The better questions to ask are surely, what sort of society and people do we wish to be? and how is this best achieved? Making everything about individual choice merely limits us to a nation of individuals and not a collective force for improved society.

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