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It seems to me that the Liberal Democrats not only lied when they pledged to vote against a rise in tuition fees, but they're still lying about the motivations for this entire move now.

The biggest mistake that protesters make when giving interviews is to say "I was going to go to university, but now I can't afford it", because it gives the impression that they don't understand what's changing. Perhaps many of them don't. But it needs to be phrased differently.

For example, I have a credit card with sufficient credit that I could, if I wanted to, buy a car. I can buy this now, and pay for it later. But I still can't afford it, regardless of the fact that no up-front payment is required. This is where Nick Clegg misunderstands the complaints about this new system - he doesn't see why it is that a person might feel that they're unable to afford burdening themselves with a huge amount of debt to be paid off in the future.

But let's look at that for a second. No up-front payment, right? So in the first year after this is brought in, how is education to be funded? How will the sums add up? If you move from up-front payment to payment in arrears, how do you fund yourself in the period between the up-front payments stopping, and the arrears payments kicking in?

The answer is that you borrow to cover it, in expectation of greater income later that will make up for it. Which is why the changes to the mechanism for funding education are categorically not a means toward deficit reduction. Three years' worth of education will take place before the first graduates start working, and with a repayment threshold at 21k and an unfavourable job market, the return isn't going to start off particularly high. So in the meantime, the government will be getting a lot less money, and won't start breaking even for a good half decade. So how does this help us in the mess we're currently in?

But the answer is simple. The government can get hold of this money up-front. They can just borrow it! Effectively, the government sources money by leveraging their collateral, which is the expectation that a bunch of students will someday be paying them back all that money that they owe for their courses.

What this means then is that the government is quite literally mortgaging the futures of hundreds of thousands of students in order to make a buck.


Of course, alternatively, they can just sell the debt. You may have heard about this strategy of debt-selling in the news, because it happened quite recently and had some fabulous consequences for world economies. By effectively selling off the future debt of students to a third party student loans company, the government can basically get paid on a per-student basis (with a calculation in there for what proportion of student debt they actually expect to recover in the longer term). The student loans company takes on that debt, and responsibility for its collection.

So for every £9k-paying student, the SLC pays the government £8k and with a long-term view, aims to collect the money over the course of the next twenty years or so. The government gets paid up front, and the future of students isn't mortgaged, it's just auctioned off to the highest bidder. Doesn't that feel more cuddly?

Either way, I can't see this as a good thing, no matter how hard I try. And for Cameron's cabinet of millionaires to sit there and fail entirely to understand why people from poorer backgrounds might not want to take on £27k in debit before they've even got a job is not unexpected, but for the Lib Dems not to get it is frankly disappointing.

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Propose a better idea then. Preferably one that doesn't involve communism.

Um, you mean like raising income tax, on account of how apparently students will earn many hundreds of thousands of pounds a year extra, thus actually generating more money for education than this half baked crock of shit?

Or is taxing the rich an alien idea to you?

Tax and spend doesn't work. See: All of those low growth countries that have very high tax rates.

Whereas of course the world is littered with shining examples of countries who have slashed public spending, killed their growth, and then miraculously recovered from recession had to ask for bailout money.

It seems a bit rich that the government justifies economically lethal cuts to public services by arguing that the future generations don't deserve to be saddled with the deficit that mean old Labour left behind, while saddling future generations with huge debts themselves.

Higher education benefits the whole country, in countless ways, and should be funded by the country. It is unreasonable to slash funding for the arts, thus forcing universities to charge more for such courses, and then saddling arts students with the massive debt created by paying for those courses, when such students are unlikely to find brilliant highly paid jobs as a result of their degree. Economically, studying the arts cannot be justified. Does that mean that nobody should? There are times when being a civilised and cultured country conflicts with naked short term market economics, and I know which of those I'd sooner pick.

When you consider the scale of tax avoidance by the rich, military spending (particularly Trident), and the way in which corporation tax has been "adjusted" such that banks are paying less following the introduction of the new levy rather than more, it seems to me like there are plenty of ways to reduce the deficit if we really have to. Cutting funding for education, and passing the financial burden onto students is most certainly not the right way to do it.

I'll be taking part in as much direct action as I can reasonably find the time for - if you want to protest on the other side, be my guest. You might be lonely.

It's as if you think they're increasing tuition fees to be vindictive. I have a hard time believing that we wouldn't be squeezing corporations as much as we could get away with long before making the average voter suffer. Perhaps it has something to do with not wanting them all to jump ship and start paying tax elsewhere...

Personally I'd like to see less of an emphasis on collecting money from students, and how putting people off university could itself stymie growth. Perhaps cutting health provision for the over 80's would save the required money? A riot of pensioners would be much easier to police.

It's as if you think they're increasing tuition fees to be vindictive.

I absolutely do. Well, vindictive is a little harsh, but I believe that for the Conservatives, it's an ideological position rather than an economic necessity. The fact that they're positioning it as a deficit-reduction plan just makes them appear disingenuous as a result.

I have a hard time believing that we wouldn't be squeezing corporations as much as we could get away with long before making the average voter suffer

For large companies, their corporation tax contribution has been cut, ostensibly to promote growth. I'm unconvinced that the jobs that will be created by that growth stimulation will in any way compensate for the number being lost in the public sector, but there we go.

There are always arguments that if you tax big companies they'll go elsewhere. But their markets are still in the UK, and that's when they start moving into tax avoidance territory. Certainly reducing their tax burden isn't doing much for the deficit reduction that's we're constantly reminded is "in the national interest".

I think there are all manner of improvements one could make to the university system, to the level of relevance in certain courses, to the way in which "going to university" is a standard part of life among certain classes, versus the more admirable "seeking out further education".

I don't think that making higher education more expensive fixes any of those problems. It doesn't even fix the deficit - it requires increased borrowing to fund the system until the students start paying money, which is exactly the problem the government claims to be trying to solve.

In short, increasing tuition fees does no good, does quite obvious damage to the system, and represents a huge betrayal of those members of the electorate who voted Liberal Democrat.

On the whole, I feel mostly negatively about it.

On the whole, I feel mostly negatively about it.

I'm glad you clarified that ;)

I wanted to give you an executive summary in case reading the rest of it was just making you cross :o)

It's okay, I forgive you for your flaws...

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