The Pledge

“I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative”

That was the NUS pledge that I signed.

The new proposals are fairer. So – those who are angry at me and feel ‘betrayed’ do at least need to look at the comparative proposals and see if they are ‘fairer’. It would have been much easier to vote against – in a constituency like Hornsey & Wood Green where some Labour voters supported me – but as popular as that might have made me – why would I vote against something which will help poorer students when my mission is a society that is more equal.

For anyone actually interested in the detail – I paste some below.

• No-one pays a penny upfront. Students don’t pay, graduates do.
• For the first time, part time students won’t have to pay up front fees.
• All students will repay less per month compared to now.
• The lowest earning 25% of graduates will repay less overall.
• No-one earning £21,000 or less will pay anything (which will be increased each year in line with earnings).
• It will be the highest earners – around 25% of graduates – who will pay back more than they borrow.
• More than half a million students will be eligible for more non-repayable grants for living costs. Almost one million students will be eligible for more overall maintenance support.
• There will be an extra £150m for a new National Scholarship Programme for students from poorer backgrounds and we will introduce tough new sanctions of universities who fail to improve their access to students from backgrounds.
• The Council of Mortgage lenders has confirmed that higher fees will not impact on graduate’s ability to get a mortgage. Student loans data are not shared with credit reference agencies, so they will not impact on an individual’s credit score (either positively or negatively). Mortgage lenders worry about monthly outgoings which are lower than at preset.

This system gives graduates more disposable income when they need it most, when they’re starting out in their careers and moving home because their monthly payments are lower.

Monthly repayment comparators – our system versus the current system:

Job Title/Starting Salary/ Our System / Current System / Annual Saving                                  

Investment Banking / £38,250  / £129.38  / £174.38  / £540.00

Police constable (London) / £25,536 / £34.02 / £79.02 / £540.00

Average graduate scheme / £25,000 / £30.00 / £75.00 / £540.00

Engineering / £23,500 / £18.75 / £63.75 / £540.00

Social worker / £23,500 / £18.75 / £63.75 / £540.00

Police constable (outside London) / £23,259 / £16.94 / £61.94 / £540.00

Teacher (outside London) / £21,588 / £4.41 / £49.41 / £540.00

Librarian / £19,000 / £0.00 / £30.00 / £360.00

Third Sector / £19,000 / £0.00 / £30.00 / £360.00

Junior Sous Chef (London) / £18,000 / £0.00 / £22.50 / £270.00

Plumber / £17,313 / £0.00 / £17.35 / £208.17

Care assistant /£13,000 / £0.00 / £0.00 / £0.00

0 thoughts on “The Pledge

  1. @ John Hemmings
    It is a mistake to see future tax payments as a debt. The tax payments are contingent on income.
    ————————–
    Please refer to a statement below that was posted on this blog by Lynne. In it she has mentioned DEBT twice. It appears that when others make the policy it is a debt, but when Lib Dems are the policy writers it is future “tax payments”.

    “More seriously, my concern is the number of Haringey’s young people who will now not go on to a university education because of debts they will incur. Whilst the government may argue that future graduates will pay back their debts out of their very high and advantaged earnings, many will find that if they go to worthy but lower-paid jobs, like teaching or working for voluntary organisations, they will have to pay back an extortionate tax rate out of very low income.”

  2. Oh and Lynne, their are many more examples of your change in stance… especially concerning your views on Barbara Roche. Thank you for this blog, it has made gathering evidence of your twist in the wind behaviour very easy… enjoy all the trappings of your ministerial position.

  3. For a more principled view of the tuition fees fiasco I suggest you watch this footage of protester Jody McIntyre being dragged from his wheelchair and his subsequent BBC interview

    He may have cerebral palsy, but he speaks with more eloquence and honesty than you could ever hope to possess

  4. what i don’t understand with this is why do the “poorer” students get grants? surely it is unfair if they get grants since “no-one pays a penny upfront” and the repayment is based upon their future earnings. So why should a graduate who won’t receive grants have to pay back more than a graduate who received grants, even if they both get a similar paying job in the end?
    ———————————————-
    how come noone has answered this? By all means provide financial aid in the form of hardship grants etc to meet living costs during the course of their education, but why provide tuition fee discount. As stated many times here, people will not have to pay it back until they are earning so how does the wealth of an individuals parents prior to enrollment affect their ability to pay off the fees post graduation? Valerie has already mentioned parents won’t be paying the “tax” back so the only reason i can see for this is that you concede that the proposals would scare off individuals from poorer backgrounds and this is a sweetener to tempt them. Or that the Lib Dems don’t care about any individual who’s parent earn above £16,000 and you are intent on making life more difficult for us in the future.

    ———-

    Yes to the above. It is illogical to provide tuition fee grants (except for maintenance) when no money is paid up front, and no money is paid back until a certain salary level is reached, unless we believe the tuition fees are indeed a barrier to students enrolling in University. If, as Hemmings keeps telling us, the tuition fees are supposed to be repaid as a future tax – why are we providing grants based on means testing the parents’ current income?

  5. @ matt groom & kemlyn
    —————————
    Indeed it doesn’t make sense, and both Valerie T and John Heemings, our Lib Dem representatives on this blog, have gone quiet on the matter. It would be very helpful to have their input on this.
    as this policy is read and understood i think more problems will come to light. In my opinion the policy was rushed through with unnecessary haste and a sheer lack of proper debate… only 2 months since the Browne Review! One excuse that Lynne has given for voting in this policy was a lack of alternatives. Surely if you were not completely happy with it then you should wait a few months and try to find something better. Don’t just get a tory proposal and tack a load of gimmicks to it.

  6. @John Hemming

    ‘I do not think that introducing a “progressive graduate contribution” to replace the current scheme is either against the pledge or a betrayal of party principles.’

    The ne system is REGRESSIVE above middle incomes. That’s a simple statement of fact; higher earning graduates will pay a smaller percentage of their towards funding higher education than those on middle incomes. For you to describe the new system as progressive is a lie (either that or you do not know what you are talking about, which is even more worrying). Furthermore, because of the 80% reduction in the teaching budget that is currently provided by general taxation (which IS progressive) is being replaced by funding through tuition fees (regressive above middle incomes) it means that the new system is not just regressive, but more regressive than the previous system (above middle incomes).

    You state that it is the upper-middle classes that are attacking the new system. Why would they when it very much favours those on high incomes? (It also favours those who graduate and then end up on low incomes, but hammers the majority of graduates who end up on middle incomes)

  7. Sorry, that should read:
    ‘will pay a smaller percentage of their 30 year gross salary towards’

  8. @ john hemming
    ———————————————-
    Those protesting about this are generally defending the interests of the upper middle class.
    My mum is a nurse, my dad is a car mechanic… am i defending the interests of the upper class? I’m sure I am not alone in this but i believe that higher education should be free and available to all, and, when properly controlled (this is important), it is beneficial for society. When people graduate and get a well paid job, they’ll be paying more in taxes… is that not enough? A good doctor can pay hundreds of thousands in taxes over their lifetime, and will also provide an essential service… should they therefore start off their working like £60000+ in DEBT?

    “I do not think that introducing a “progressive graduate contribution” to replace the current scheme is either against the pledge or a betrayal of party principles.”

    if it involves raising the tuition fees from £3,000 to £9,000 then yes it does go against the pledge and a long standing Liberal Democrat policy. The pledge wasn’t….

    I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament AND/OR to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative

  9. “Those protesting about this are generally defending the interests of the upper middle class.”
    ——————————-
    sorry to pick on you John H, but if these proposals were “fairer” then why would the upper middle class need their interests defending? surely the liberal democrats and Tories wouldn’t have created a policy that unfairly targeted a select group of our society!

    BF

  10. Perhaps you need to have a quiet word with John Hemming Lynne and ask him to back off. He’s proving just as annoying as you and not doing you any favours at all.

    After that, let us know what you think of council cuts which see Richmond lose 1% and Tower Hamlets nearer 10%.

    Equalities, hello?

  11. The Lib Dems in the Lords were even more pusillanimous than in Commons. Paddy Ashdown sounded pure Tory. Apparently incapable of simple arithmetic.

    I’m cancelling all standing orders and probably leaving the party.

  12. @ David Colquhoun
    “The Lib Dems in the Lords were even more pusillanimous than in Commons.”

    Can’t say i’m surprised. After so long in opposition they haven’t got the foggiest about leading a country and have resorted to looking to the Tories for guidance. Hopefully some of the Lib Dems will grow a spine soon and stand up for themselves… and us.

    We voted for the Liberals and we got Tory… never again!

  13. That’s not good enough Lynne..to be fair though no amount of bullshit could cover-up the inequalities of this new system. I will be joining the students at the next protest because I genuinely believe you will bring the country to its knees with this proposterous system. A lot of comparisons have been made with the US. The US is absolutely fucked – the only thing that works properly is its robust media machine which effectively papers over the cracks…This does not bode well for the future.

    Pffffffff…At the end of the day, you lied and you stole my vote!

  14. Lynne – is it really so hard to understand that even if some people pay back less each month than under the current system they will make these monthly payments for LONGER – three times as long. This is a significant disadvantage for people on an average salary (25k).

    It is also really rather odd to take one word (fairer) and portray your vote for the tripling of tuition fees as honouring this one word of the pledge. What about the remaining 22 words in your pledge?

    May I also say well done for scrapping EMA and reducing the sure start budget. Your government is obviously prioritising the education of the poorest young people and early years provisions over funding higher education.

  15. This is what Lord Paddy had to say:

    “This is not a credit card debt. It’s equivalent to a mortgage.”

    Oh great, we’d all love to have another one of those. But i’m confused; is it a tax? is it a debt? soooo many mixed messages about this proposal and no one is on this blog to answer them for us

  16. “…which will help poorer students when my mission is a society that is more equal”

    Surely this in itself is creating inequality. As previously stated, by offering tuition fee discounts to poorer student you are giving them an unfair advantage later in life. 2 people graduate from University and get a similar paying job; the one whose parents earned under £16000 graduated with tuition fee debts of £9000 (2 years free; 1st yr government and 2nd yr university) whilst the 2nd student, who’s parent earned £30000, has graduated with £27000 of tuition fee debt. They have both apparently benefitted the same from the education yet one has £18000 more debt than the other.

    Can a member of the Lib Dems please tell me how this is any fairer?

    thanks

    Matthew

  17. “why would I vote against something which will help poorer students when my mission is a society that is more equal.”

    How about Naked self-interest and a ministerial salary?

  18. This is what Baroness Walmsley said:

    ‘Now our young people have been betrayed …… The Government have shown no backbone. There is no determination to do the right thing for children ……. They do not deserve to be re-elected.’

    However that was a few months ago on 7th April 2010. These days the noble Baroness is happy to support the “Condems” and voted to increase tuition fees.

  19. It would be helpful if you were also to address not just the student grant fiasco and the shameful behaviour of your party but the withdrawal of the entire teaching grant for humanities and social science.

  20. I could embark on a teleological analysis of your pledge, Lynne, but there’s no need. Your pledge is not merely a lie because you have voted for the tuition fee rises, but also because you did nothing to prevent, and actively champion the implementation of this appalling policy.

    Thus, your position, your democratic mandate if you will, is fatally undermined.

    You have two choices, if you have any shame: 1) call for a general election now so the electorate can decide whether to maintain their support of the LibDems in the face of such duplicity; or 2) subject the tuition fee increase to approval via referendum.

    Can I just add that I give you my solemn pledge, to campaign against, oppose, block and denounce any and all attempts by the Liberal Democrats ever to seek public office again?

  21. what is the point of this blog if neither Lynne or her representatives answer at least some of the questions asked and do so honestly? by this i mean provide us with your personal views and not coalition rhetoric, after all we are told that Lynne is
    “more interested in telling what she sees as the truth than in toeing the party line”.

    So, how can you justify the partys excuses regarding tuition fees? the pledge stated that you “pledge to vote against ANY increase in fees in the next parliament”, yet you voted for it.

    Why have your views changed so markedly now that the Liberal Democrats are in power? Please refer to your previous Blog entries, especially when B Roche was in power

    How is it equal and fair, as you put it, to offer tuition fee grants to a select group of individuals? after all, this fee rise will be paid back in the future so the debt is dependent on future, not current, finances.

    Will there be a replacement for EMA?

    How can you justify effectively privatising Higher Education?

    thanks in advance for your answers

  22. While it is debateable that the system is regressive at higher incomes, it is clearly highly progressive at lower and middle incomes, where it matters, and moreover more progressive than the current system, even at higher incomes.

    You’re welcome to go into a lower paying job after you graduate, and you won’t have to pay a full contribution – the state picks up the tab. For you, fees have been cut, and the £6000 or £9000 figure is an irrelevant fiction.

    There was a lack of foresight in signing the pledge, but any action to keep the first half “fees” would have broken the second half “a fairer system”.

    Oh, and yes there will be a replacement for the EMA.

    And Higher Education is not being privatised.

  23. “You’re welcome to go into a lower paying job”.

    With this kind of patronising claptrap on her side how can Lynne fail?

  24. @ Joe

    I hear “regressive” and “progressive” and lower-,middle-, higher incomes banded around, but all i want to know is are the new proposals fairer to all of society? not just to the “rich” or “poor” or to the tax payer. If not, at what wage does the proposal go from being fair to being unfair? I would like to know so that i can dampen the aspirations of my children when i send them to university in the next few years.

    the data above, provided by Lynne, misses out the key point of comparative total repayment so please can you update this for this

    And whilst I have your attention, what is the EMA replacement? and how will the new system be an improvement on the old system?

  25. Joe Otten, you don’t seem to understand the meanings of the words “progressive” and “regressive” in relation to tax. A “progressive” tax is one that hits highly paid people relatively more than the low-paid. A “regressive” tax is one that does the opposite, ie hits the lower-paid relatively harder. Thus, for example, the poll tax was regarded as regressive because, as a flat-rate tax, it was more of a burden to those on low incomes than those on high incomes. £1,000 is a lot more proportionately if you earn £10,000 a year than if you earn £100,000 a year, ie 10 per cent of your total pay vs 1 per cent.
    So when you say “While it is debateable that the system is regressive at higher incomes, it is clearly highly progressive at lower and middle incomes, where it matters…” it makes no sense. A tax is either broadly progressive (hitting the higher paid more) or regressive (hitting the lower paid more) or neutral (hitting everyone more or less the same, relative to their incomes).
    I hope that helps with your discussions.
    By the way, someone should perhaps explain the terminology above to the Lib Dems, who seem to have decided that “progressive”, in relation to tax matters, means “we think it’s a good idea”.

  26. Joe Otten
    “While it is debateable that the system is regressive at higher incomes”

    It’s not debateable at all, it’s a simple mathematical fact. Does it matter that it’s regressive above middle incomes? It does if you want to look at fairness and equality. A graduate that earns an average of 100k throughout their lifetime will pay no more money towards higher education than they did under the previous system (despite the fees going up to £6k), given that the teaching budget is being reduced by 80% and hence the contribution the graduate makes to the budget through income tax is reduced by 80%. However, for middle income earners (most graduates) the amount of money they will pay will go up considerably (cumulatively and as a percentage of gross lifetime earnings).

    Wealth inequalties continued to increase under Labouur. The Lib Dems are clearly inent on making the inequalities greater still by signing up to this Tory policy.

  27. Sorry to the regular readers of this blog, but i still haven’t received an answer from an informed Lib Dem representative about this issue (Joe, Velerie, Lynne). It seems that they can wax lyrical about “positive” aspects but when a problem is found they bury their heads in the sand!
    ————-
    what i don’t understand with this is why do the “poorer” students get grants? surely it is unfair if they get grants since “no-one pays a penny upfront” and the repayment is based upon their future earnings. So why should a graduate who won’t receive grants have to pay back more than a graduate who received grants, even if they both get a similar paying job in the end? By all means provide financial aid in the form of hardship grants etc to meet living costs during the course of their education, but why provide tuition fee discount? As stated many times here, people will not have to pay it back until they are earning so how does the wealth of an individuals parents prior to enrollment affect their ability to pay off the fees post graduation? Valerie has already mentioned parents won’t be paying the “tax” back so the only reason i can see for this is that you are conceding that the proposals would scare off individuals from poorer backgrounds and that this is a sweetener to tempt them. Or that the Lib Dems don’t care about any individual who’s parent earn above £16,000 and you are intent on making life more difficult for us in the future.

  28. Adam – that was a specific response to the concern that people going into a lower paying job won’t be able to repay their fees. The fact is they won’t have to and will pay less in total than they do under the present system, and will pay nothing until they earn over £21000 (rather than the £15000 it is today)

    Recall, what we have is a progressive contribution system, but one limited by the total fees plus interest. So at higher incomes you end up paying the total cost and at lower incomes you pay only a contribution towards that based on your income. It is much like the NUS proposal for a graduate tax, except that they would start taking payments from people earning under £10000, and would charge less to higher earners. But the principle (as opposed to the name) is so similar, I would like to hear anybody’s objection in principle to the government proposal that doesn’t apply to the NUS proposal as well.

    Now you are right that when people earn enough to pay off the whole cost of their education, they are not charged substantially more than that, and at this point the system stops being progressive. But that is largely because of the cap on fees. If we set the fees at £1billion per year, then the debt would be entirely notional for everyone, and everyone would just pay the income-based contributions of £7 per month for each £1000 per year earned above £21000.

    Similarly a lower cap would mean that more people would pay off the full amount, and that therefore the contribution system would be less progressive. (And that people who don’t go to university would pay a larger share.)

    Now perhaps we deserve some criticism for having a regressive policy to cut fees in the first place.

    Steve, your simple mathematics would be good enough if there were only 2 income levels. In that case the progressive v regressive judgement would be simple. As it is we are proposing something a little like National Insurance that goes up progressively with income at the lower end, but then hits a cap, so that very high earners don’t pay more than moderately high earners. The current system is similar but much more regressive because it starts taking money from much poorer people, and hits the cap much sooner.

    And steve, I must just pick up your point regarding the contribution from Income Tax. Income tax is only a small part of general taxation, and one of the more progressive parts. General taxation as a whole is not progressive. VAT is about neutral, Council Tax, fuel taxes, and sin taxes are paid disproportionately by low earners. (And these highly regressive taxes, incidentally, are those that Labour have pushed up relentlessly over the last government in preference to the more progressive ones.)

  29. Matt, I wouldn’t consider myself an “informed Lib Dem representative” – just a Lib Dem who’s read the arguments in favour, read the arguments against, read the IFS study etc. and thinks that the new system is fairer. I’ll continue to be glad of further information, though. And I’m not going to rail against grants to poorer students!

  30. Matt, the grant is for living costs rather than fees. It is to stop the cost of living being a barrier to poorer students going to university.

  31. Joe Otten

    Wrong again. The grant Matt is talking about is for up to two years’ worth of tuition fees. The maintenance grant is completely separate.

  32. What do you mean ‘again’?

    OK that grant is to tackle some of the misleading hyperbole coming from the anti-fees protestors that is likely to put some young people off going to university.

  33. @ Joe and Valerie

    this is an excerpt from the BBC;
    “pupils who have been eligible for school meals could get up to two years’ worth of fees paid for under plans being considered. These potential students are from the very poorest backgrounds, whose parents were in receipt of benefits when they were at school.
    In most cases, this means they would only have to take out tuition fee loans for their third and final year of study – although those on longer courses would have to pay for further years.”
    ——————————
    as i have stated, i am not against grants to help cover the living costs etc of poorer student whilst they study, and I am a bit insulted that you think i am railing against poorer students. I am merely quizzing why they are given help with fees that are based upon future earnings? the amount of fees he/she will be eligible is not dependent upon their current income so why are there proposed tuition fee grants based on current income. to me it doesn’t make sense. On the one hand it is being said that fees aren’t a problem and you’ll only pay back what you can afford and on the other you are saying that students from a poor background may have trouble paying the fees in the future and you’re providing them with assistance. how is that not illogical?

  34. Joe

    Great answer, so the increased fees are potentially a barrier to everyone but the very wealthy then, which is the complete opposite of the reason Lynne gave for voting with the Government, but you are blaming that on the protestors?

    I like it, you’re a funny guy.

  35. Belt and braces. That’s not inconsistency, it is being doubly determined.
    ——————
    is that your response to me or Kemlyn?

  36. Joe

    Right, so you’re saying the poor may be too stupid to realise what a good deal they are getting, so we’ll offer them a sweetener just in case?

    Like I say, funny guy. Or possibly just an old style Tory. You choose.

  37. Kemlyn, I don’t know how you read that into what I said.

    Lower and middle earners will pay a contribution to their fees based on income – i.e. a graduate tax in all but name, which is what the NUS is demanding.

    The size of the fee is only relevant to higher earners because their contributions will be sufficient to pay it off. Lower earners will not pay the full fee. Theology courses really ought to go for the £9000 cap because priests are so badly paid, that it won’t make any difference to them. They will make a small (if any) earnings-based contribution (like a tax) and that will be all.

  38. Matt, belt and braces was to you.

    Kemlyn of course not. Stop scratching around for evil intentions to impute to me and why not address the merits of the policy instead.

  39. I’m afraid you’ve missed or ignored the point Lynne – There’s no need to have fees at all.

    When you consider that the average graduate earns c. £150,000 more than the average non-graduate (see O’Leary and Sloan 2005 – just typing that into google will take you to a pdf of that paper and others that reference it), and when you consider that all forms of taxation mean that 39.2% (Office of National Statistics, also more freely ‘findable’ on Wikipedia which references the ONS) of that is paid to the treasury then that means the average graduate pays an additional £58,800 over their lifetimes compared to the average non-graduate.

    Given the cost of a university degree has been declared at £27,000, then it seems to me the country benefits to the tune of (once ‘cost’ of the degree is taken away from this extra tax that graduates pay) c.£30,000+ per graduate on average over that graduate’s lifetime given the tax they pay – and there’s a lot of graduates out there: at least 150,000 per year (2007 dates from prospects.ac.uk, and 2008 and 2009 were higher, so let’s not quibble and just say 150,000).

    So that’s £4.5bn you’ll make from ONE YEAR’S worth of graduates over their working lives (say 40 years – some will work longer, others won’t /will die/emigrate/have children and career breaks, etc..) or +£112.5M in *extra* tax beyond the cost of the degree per year for each year’s worth of graduates than if they were not graduates.

    Indeed, every new year of graduates will bring in, on average, another +£112.5M in tax revenues. Remember this is BEYOND what it cost to educate them…

    How is your system “progressive”? It’s a tax on the educated, pure and simple.

  40. So, you’re saying it’s purely there as a gimmick to appease some people… How is this fair? It is being said that these grants make the policy fairer, but in reality they don’t since graduates whose parents earn more (may only be £1,000 or so) will be £18,000 worse off in comparison.

    i am a recent graduate (Biology at University of Manchester) and each year the standard of teaching (in terms of contact hours and resources) decreased so i appreciate that Universities need funding from somewhere. In general i’m not completely against the fees but i think this has gone too far. By enforcing 80% cuts and tripling fees to meet the deficits the standard of Universities will only continue to stagnate. Would a tripling of fees and only a 40% cut not have been better? at least then students will be getting more for their money and a better educated society is beneficial for society! I just think this policy has been rushed through without proper public discussion. It is only 2 months since the Browne report (which everyone is taking as gospel) was published and this haste has perhaps added to the general misunderstanding since the policy has constantly evolved in order to get more people on side. Figures like Lynne published above, but with TOTAL REPAYMENT VALUE, can help with the misunderstandings because a lot of people think they’ll be paying back £18,000 (+interest) more than they would under the current system. if they realise that you only pay more back if you earn over £50,000 (picked a numer out of the ether, may not be true) then it may help placate them more effectively than kettling them in Parliament Square.

  41. DrzBa

    Well said. I have raised that issue elsewhere and been laughed at. A good doctor can pay hundreds of thousands in tax over their lifetime and provides an important service, so why should we scare them scare them off with potential debts of £50k+.

    What is more important is cutting down on the “mickey mouse” courses that appear to only function to make extra money for the University. Programme co-ordinators should have to show that graduates from their courses will be able to benefit society and show value for money… surf science!?! Raising tuition fees alone will not do this because people may deem it worthwahile to have a 3 year jolly.

  42. Joe

    You clearly said that the tuition fees grant – which you initially denied even existed – was “belt and braces”. Implying that either people may indeed be put off going to University by increased fees, or that the poor are too stupid to realise they don’t have to pay upfront. Yet Lynne has stated on here that she only voted for the tripling of tuition fees because she was assured that nobody had been deterred from taking a degree by Labour’s top-up fees.

    So which is it? If the answer is that, yes, it is possible that people will be deterred, then the policy is shot. If the answer is no, then why give grants as sweeteners?

    It is totally illogical to give any upfront tuition fee grants if the entire policy is based on future payments, and then only by those who are – your words – “middle and upper earners”. If today’s “poor” become tomorrow’s “upper earners” why are they excused tuition fees that don’t have to be paid until they are “upper earners”?

  43. @Joe Otten
    “And steve, I must just pick up your point regarding the contribution from Income Tax.”

    I didn’t say that all taxation is derived from revenue generated by income tax. I was pointing out that if the income tax of high earners is divided according to the proportion that is spent in different government departments then it is possible to derive a figure for the amount of income tax someone will pay towards higher education during their lifetime. For someone on 100k that figure reduces dramatically because of the 80% cut in the teaching budget. Over their lifetime (~45 years of work), the 100k graduate’s extra contribution through raised tuition fees is effectively cancelled out by the decrease in income tax. However, as you’ve mentioned other forms of taxation then if these are also included then the 100k graduate will actually be paying less money over their lifetime towards higher education than they do presently.

    Thanks for comments about there being more than two incomes in this Country. I would have thought that you might have understood that I understand that from my earlier comments about tuition fees being regressive above middle incomes (the top three income deciles pay a smaller contribution as a proportion of their income). This is in contradiction to the Lib Dem policy aim of funding higher education through progressive taxation and it should be noted those three top income deciles are of non-graduates and graduates combined. When the incomes of graduates are considered then there will be a greater range across which the system is regressive given that graduates earn more.

  44. Matt,

    You make some fair points. But Browne wasn’t taken as gospel – Vince Cable tried to get him to consider the graduate tax alternative, and then got his own department to investigate it too. But it couldn’t be made to work – it had problems and anomalies of its own, including the problems in Scotland with different rates of fee for Scottish, English, Welsh, EU and non-EU students. And we imposed a cap on fees, against Browne’s recommendation. (Although this cap probably makes the system a little less progressive.)

    You’re right that the funding settlement for HE teaching is pretty brutal. Research was also under threat at one point, but in the end science at least was largely protected, which I think is right. But the answer to this that we’re all bored sick of by now, is what would you cut instead? BIS faced a 25% cut, as it did under Labour.

    And I agree that the policy is not well understood, but no explanation of the policy will ever get on television when there are dramatic pictures of rioting students, or embarrassing photos of people signing pledges to be shown instead. These things make much better television.

  45. kemlyn,

    My “belt and braces” comment does not imply either of the options you offer me.

    It is better to take two measures than just one to encourage students from poor families to go to university. Students are put off by a poverty of expectations, and the more measures we take to tackle this the better.

  46. Steve, you’re right that the original Lib Dem policy of scrapping fees is regressive because free university education would be almost entirely a handout to the middle classes.

    And this does mean that the rioting students are attacking us from the right. We have compromised on a much more progressive policy than scrapping fees, which results in a smaller handout to higher earners.

    We’re also being attacked from the right by arguments along the lines of DrzBa, that because high earners pay more tax, they are entitled to much better education than low earners. This is totally contrary to the principle of progressive taxation – that the better off should make a bigger contribution and get the same level of service in return.

    But at the same time, the same people, often, complain that the graduate contribution system being brought in isn’t progressive enough.

  47. We’re also being attacked from the right by arguments along the lines of DrzBa, that because high earners pay more tax, they are entitled to much better education than low earners. This is totally contrary to the principle of progressive taxation – that the better off should make a bigger contribution and get the same level of service in return.
    ————————————————–
    I don’t think he is saying that at all. I think what he is trying to say is that, no matter what your background, if you are successful financially in life then you will end up paying more into the system in the form of tax, whether VAT, income tax etc. therefore, i think he is saying that you are essentially taxing these people twice for being successes (future tax on earning and tuition fees in relation to these earnings).I too have heard similar reports about the average graduate being £100,000 or so better off than a non-graduate but once you take additional income tax, Ni contributions this will decrease markedly. Add in that the average student will now graduate with circa £40,000 debt (not including above inflation interest) then it won’t be long until there is no benefit in going to University.

  48. It is better to take two measures than just one to encourage students from poor families to go to university. Students are put off by a poverty of expectations, and the more measures we take to tackle this the better.

    ——-

    Joe

    I’m sorry, this doesn’t make any sense at all. The whole package is being sold on the “no upfront fees, no repayment until you can afford it”.

    How can Lynne say there is no deterrent in the new system, therefore she can vote for it, and then pass a measure to offer incentives to a small proportion of those who might be deterred?