In a society stifled by high debts, forced to prioritise between vital services such as adequate pensions for the elderly, good healthcare, unemployment benefits and an infrastructure system which can promote growth within the economy, the recent UK higher education reform has always seemed to me the perfect compromise between giving people the opportunity to go to university and avoiding a further burden on the state.
Having a free market for tuition fees, where the universities which give students the best prospects of a rewarding career charge higher taxes, combined with a fair student loan system (where, compared to a standard loan, the state bears all the risks involved) repayable only when the graduate earns a decent salary, is a good strategy to make sure the quality of education is not impaired to favour access.
The main criticism of the student loan system is the fact that students from poorer backgrounds are much more debt averse than those from middle-class or higher-class families. So although, in theory, a student loan system does provide a level playing field where everyone who wishes to go to university has the opportunity to do so, the practice is quite different. My support for the university reform in the
was justified on the basis that this practical disequilibrium was adjusted by increasing the number of targeted grants to facilitate higher education involvement from the poorer students. UK
Recently, however, I have heard in the news that these grants, which were a fundamental pillar of the reform (and of the Browne Review), are to be scrapped as they are considered unaffordable (this is not going to improve the reputation of the many Lib Dem MPs who had already reneged their promises of voting against any rises in tuition fees). This move is, to me, a step too far that fails to understand how debt adverse lower class students are and, in doing so, will result in greater inequalities in the country