Thursday, 9 December 2010

Michael Gove: Oh Dear

Michael Gove is a twat. Don't take my word for it, you can discover this for yourself by reading If I'm Paying for Your Education, So Can You. Here's a snippet:
The first point that needs to be made about the so-called deterrent effect of a £21,000 loan is that anyone put off from attending a good university by fear of that debt doesn’t deserve to be at any university in the first place.
Okay, so this is from The Times of 21st January, 2003. Seven years is an eternity in politics. I'm sure if I looked back on my contemporaneous babblings on the UK Left Network I'd be left similarly red-faced. But then I was a) relatively youthful, b) angry, and c) had little practical political experience. What's Gove's excuse? If his views have changed in the intervening years, can we expect a retraction?


TJ said...

OK, first of all I am as yet undecided about the tuition fees thing. It is a very complicated issue and one that I suspect does not merit the level of emotion that it seems to be associated with.

Given this, can you please explain to me what part of what Gove has written here is twattish[1]?

At present the proposals seem to be:

1) Retain free at the point of use uni for all.
2) Offer heavy subsidies to students from poorer backgrounds.
3) Only require repayment once an individual is earning over £21 000 a year (which IIRC is close to the median wage).

Given that we've decided that we want more people to go to university and that this costs money, and that a very large part of the benefits of a university education accrues to the person who receives that education, isn't it fair that it is the individual who pays?

[1]: I mean, he *is* right, surely? I get there might be "psychological barriers", but surely this is an argument for a massive investment in removing said barriers from poorer prospective university students, in the form of a massive education campaign at sixth form level.

Phil said...

My opposition begins with the government's 80% cut to the HE teaching budget. In a stroke they are saying the humanities - everything encompassing politics, sociology, philosophy, literature, geography, art and music, media, psychology, economics, languages, IR, business, history - are not worthwhile. Forget these supply eminently transferable skills, drive Britain's thriving creative sector, make a massive contribution to our cultural life, and generate big bucks for the economy: as far as the Coalition are concerned they're less worthwhile than the sciences. This is a purely ideological act.

To plug the gap they want to charge graduates up to £9k for their education - a measure that will breed resentment on the part of science graduates for having to pick up the tab for others' education.

The government are at pains to point out people will pay less and is more progressive than what presently exists. True, the threshold for payments rises. True, repayments per month are less. But in practice this means bigger debts hanging over graduates for longer periods of time. Can you imagine banks happily handing mortgages out to young people with £40k+ debt?

And even within their own terms, the government policy makes no sense. How can the funding gap their teaching cuts cause be filled when fees are deferred until after graduation and when paying them back is conditional?

The whole policy is a total mess.

TJ said...

Yes the Coalition proposals are philistine. And yes the justification of "cutting the deficit" is a stupid one.

As for mortgages, their dispensation would presumably be based on a credit report that would note that someone has £40k of *student debt* incurred whilst the mortgage applicant was increasing his or her potential future earnings by attending university. Not exactly a credit risk.

As to your question:

"How can the funding gap their teaching cuts cause be filled when fees are deferred until after graduation and when paying them back is conditional? "

Well I don't know if this will change under the new legislation but at the moment I, as a student, borrow money from the student loans company, which is paid direct to my university.

The unis get the cash up front, and the debt floats over my head, but is largely underwritten by the government.

And I note you still haven't addressed my original question. What is twattish about Gove's point? Isn't he right?

And given that the main beneficiary of student loans is the individual, why should society as a whole pick up the bill?

Phil said...

Actually, no. It may seem counter-intuitive at first glance, but the main beneficiary of higher education is not the student but the employer. The government's plans are, among other things, an attempt to increase the subsidy students pay their future employers. See here.

And as for Michael Gove and his twat creds, did you not read the quote around which this post is based?