HEPI and the great Gideon cock-up

The new students at York have made the decision that University would be worth the investment, worth paying three times more than us already there, worth the debt. And yet they might not be getting what they paid for. And all because the government got their sums wrong.

It sounds farcical but a report has shown that there could be a black hole of as much as one billion per year to fill because George Osborne and his pals, who got free University education themselves, can’t count. Perhaps it should be expected. It’s not like University funding is as easy to work out as distinguishing between a standard and a first class train ticket.

The worst part of it is that the report by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI, a highly respected think-tank) says the Government’s system of higher fees designed to solve the funding crisis is in danger of costing taxpayers more than the old one.

The notion that despite charging students three times more the government will still not be making any savings is absurd. If this proves to be the case, it is a scandalous revelation and an embarrassing and costly misjudgement. Triple for less: no it’s not just a drinks deal in Stone Roses, it’s a Government cock-up.

As for Nick Clegg, he claimed his party’s infamous U-turn on tuition fees was supposedly to support the austerity programme. If the findings in this report are accurate then it appears students have been betrayed further.

For students who have just started paying £9,000 the thought that paying higher fees may give them a poorer education than those who paid less is an upsetting one, and even more worrying is the idea that they might have to pay even more in the long run through higher repayments.

The NUS are currently preparing for their DEMO 2012 to try to fight for a better deal for students. Hopefully the government will actually listen to them this time.

According to Bahram Bekhradnia, HEPI’s director: “Either future taxpayers will need to pay more, other parts of the higher education budget will need to be cut, student numbers will need to be held down even further than presently planned or former students will have to repay more.”

So we could face the prospect of even lower student numbers, already reduced by students put off by the fee rise, as well as a poorer quality of education for all students – not just those paying the higher fees – because of a mismanagement of the overall budget. It is almost unbelievable. How could they be so careless? Surely they have learnt by now not to go by “”highly uncertain and optimistic assumptions”?

I accept that in this day and age students have to pay some fees, as a student who chose to pay fees myself by coming to study in England. The Scottish position for example is simply unsustainable, but £9,000 is already too high. I would have seriously questioned my decision to attend university in England had I applied a year later, and the government should at least be respecting this investment by new students.

Whether you pay £3,000, £9, 000, or even more if you have come from overseas to study, you expect to get what you pay for. If this funding gap is to be filled, it should not be by students. Those paying £9,000 fees have already paid too much and it would be hugely unfair to shift the cost of this funding gap to them.

To read the full report, visit the HEPI’s website

5 comments

  1. can you post a link to the report?
    if this is true it should absolutely balloon to be the biggest political scandal of the decade, like iraq should’ve. on second thought, maybe it won’t…

    Reply Report

  2. This is interesting. Can you put a link to the HEPI report that says this?

    Reply Report

  3. 30 Oct ’12 at 9:43 am

    Joshua Goodwin

    This seems to be the problem in a nutshell (from the aforelinked page): “This report […] concludes that the cost will be much higher than has been admitted, both because repayments of loans is likely to be much lower than claimed and also because the inflationary impact of the fees will mean that the level of benefits will be increased.”

    Reply Report

Leave a comment



Please note our disclaimer relating to comments submitted. Please do not post pretending to be another person. Nouse is not responsible for user-submitted content.