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Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Q:When is a university fee not a university fee?

A: When it is a tax.

One of the problems with governments is that they tend to think that our money is their money.  An example is when a company, particularly a state owned company is fined for bad behaviour, often for overcharging their customers.  The fine of course goes to the Consolidated fund, not to the poor customers who are often charged more to allow the company to rebuild its business.

A similar flaw arises in the new proposal for university fees.  Some universities think that they have to charge £9,000 to continue to give a high standard of education notwithstanding the funding they get from the state.  Well, maybe, and perhaps there will be some students willing to pay those higher fees.  But if they think they will  get an incremental £5,710 worth of education they can forget it.  £900 of that will be routed into paying for bursaries for the "less well off".

Well blow me but that is just under a 20% tax on the extra amount.  I thought education was supposed to be a public benefit and largely free from tax.  Even private schools largely fund their bursaries from endowments, but this government has forced the cost onto current fee-payers, not that these fee payers are particularly affluent because they will all take out loans.  Yes, take out student loans to pay for somebody else's education.

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