Monday, 18 October 2010

Can taxpayers afford free tuition fees?

BillBloggs sent the following email to where he gives a different opinion to the one I expressed in A pledge is a pledge end of .
Dear Nick,

Under these dire financial  circumstances, and following receipt of your very well put explanation and arguments for abandoning the LD election pledge to abolish Tuition Fees, you do have my full support.

Free education to degree level is a great idea - IFour country (i.e. us taxpayers - not government )can truly afford it.
Please don't let this coalition government offer anything else for free that we taxpayers cannot afford!
Anything "free" always seems to be a great idea to voters - but why do these same voters keep forgetting that when any political party or government promises anything for "free" to us all - it is all of the taxpayers in the UK that are going to have to pay for it!
I don't!
Surely telling us taxpayers what it would cost to do this now and what we will have to do without on top of all the other cuts coming to us is the final clinching argument that you could put to persuade all those complaining now to be quiet?
Mind you -Scrapping Trident would have gone a long way to offset the cuts elsewhere wouldn't it? However, I think that money if saved would be far still better spent elsewhere(e.g. green infrastructure hence green job creation) rather than on tuition fees.
Frankly, I have always wondered how we managed to provide a university education for free for so long in the past.
We must have been a very wealthy country once!
I guess that is also why we have been so generous with our benefits system in the past too? Little knowing of course how that was going to backfire by creating so many dependants who have found it easier not to work and milk the system etc.
I would like to add that, IMHO, a university education is being overrated in the UK anyway.
All young people need jobs to go to, and a degree is wasted time and money if there aren't any jobs around that need you to have one.
A hell of a lot of degree qualified people are in lowly jobs in the UK already. Time and Money wasted, wasn't it?
(One begins to think any government support given for further education was a way to get people of the unemployment and benefit lists for a while!)
What we really do need badly in this country is a restoration of our manufacturing industries, a boost to our farming and agriculture, loads of green jobs, and far more people in on -job training and apprenticeships - rather than becoming overqualified or qualified in unwanted subjects in universities.
I also think that further education, particularly at degree level, could and should be financed much more by businesses and industry, and thereby the qualifications gained would be linked more closely to their needs. After all, they would get the benefit of these more highly and correctly educated people as a resource pool.
Please bear in mind that Practical skills have a very important place in our society too, and please note that many of those people that we are now trying to get off of benefits and into work (Hooray for Ian Duncan Smith!) are just the sort of people who can be trained to do them.
Surely this is what should be happening - rather than too freely letting the Eastern Europeans and other Immigrants come here and take jobs away from our own people?
I write as retired Chartered Mechanical Engineer who got the necessary qualifications the hard way, not via a university degree but as an apprentice doing days and many evenings at Technical College, while I also gaining many sound and invaluable  practical skills at the same time.
I have had 40 years experience in industry, and I have worked with and employed many degree level and highly practically skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled people from all walks of life, during my career.
IMHO this country needs to become far more self sufficient all round again, like it once was.
What we are doing with continuous population growth and relying on getting ever more economic growth and increasing globalisation everywhere to support it all is simply not sustainable - certainly not for much longer.
The planet we live on is of a fixed size with finite resources, so this must be so.
Todays link is to Lib Dem Voice who also has a opinion article from Simon Kaye who is in favour of the Browne report.

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