Higher Education

The government has announced a review of student funding and University fees. They have decided to do this because they are concerned that Universities do not provide competitive and varied course fees to reflect the different costs of provision and the different economic values to the student of differing degrees. They are also concerned about the scale of student debt and the rate of interest charged on it. This was an important talking point in the General Election when some in Labour seemed to say they would cancel all existing student debt, only for Mr Corbyn after the election to make clear this was not an affordable promise.

The government will have to remember that Universities are independent institutions with a substantial revenue from overseas students. It is not surprising that individual Universities have been reluctant to vary their pricing, for fear of being labelled a second or third rate institution if they decided on a price cutting strategy. It is also perhaps understandable that they have decided to price the same for each subject, meaning that high cost subjects like chemistry are cross subsidised by lower cost subjects that do not need expensive laboratories and supplies. Harmony between staff of different faculties and convenience of administration point to common pricing. There has also been a reluctance to vary prices related to demand and market value, though a law qualification or a finance qualification from a top university probably bestows more economic value on the holder than some other courses from less well regarded institutions.The government may well encounter resistance to the idea of segregated pricing, and may not wish to take pro competition action against the universities.

The present loan system allows for the possibility that some degrees do not enable the student to enter relatively high earning jobs, by allowing write off of student debt if the person stays in low paid employment. It also has the weakness that a high flier who can attract a well paid job may decide to leave the country and walk away from the debt. The high rate of interest acts as a kind of graduate tax on all those who do settle into employment above the income threshold.

There are three main ways that the system could be altered. The government could put more money in to subsidise expensive and worthwhile courses, or to subsidise good UK students. The Universities could be made to compete, with requirements for differential pricing based on costs, supply and demand. The government could continue with a loan based scheme with reform of the interest rate and tweaks to the requirements to repay and to the enforcement of repayment by those who are successful. The scheme can be made to be more like a graduate tax.

I am not myself recommending any reform. I will be interested in your thoughts. The loan scheme which Conservatives originally opposed, fearing it would lead to fewer people attending university and fewer people from poorer backgrounds thinking they could go, has had neither of those consequences. For that and other reasons the Conservative party altered its stance and came to accept and extend the loan scheme Labour introduced. I do favour more increases in scholarship funds so good students can be grant financed. Many universities now are raising these access funds from ex alumni and other wellwishers.


  1. Mark B
    February 20, 2018

    Good morning.

    . . . . after the election to make clear this was not an affordable promise.

    It is high time that this kind of fraud is stopped. Making promises, particularly one’s involving monies, in order to gain votes should be criminalised. Proper costing should be done and, where this has not, it should be made clear to the electorate.

    If we can afford to send billions to overseas countries and to the EU then we can afford to send people of suitable academic ability to University for free. But the courses they can attend without paying should be very narrow. Proper science based and not PPE or any of the humanities.

    It is a question of priorities.

    Finally. The UK government should outlaw any discrimination between the nations of the UK. If higher education is offered free for Scots in Scotland, then the same course should be offered free to anyone else. To allow anything else stinks of inequality and division.

    1. eeyore
      February 20, 2018

      “Making promises to gain votes should be criminalised.” The courts have already looked at this (Wheeler v Office of the Prime Minister) and decided against. Manifesto promises are not legally enforceable and voters should exercise their own judgement about believing them.

      1. Mark B
        February 20, 2018

        That was a judgement brought against the government with regards to the Labour Party pledge on a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon. No monies for votes were offered.

        Fraud is:

        Wrongful deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.

        I would argue that the Labour Party were deliberately fraudulent in offering tax money in exchange for votes, knowingly or unknowingly.

        A deceitful act for which further trust in politics is eroded and I believe can only be corrected and mended by legislation.

      2. Dennis Zoff
        February 20, 2018


        Funny how anything that is a Government/Opposition making is not legally enforceable. Indeed, downright lies can be ignored …one law for them and another for us?

    2. Andy
      February 20, 2018


      I want my £350m a week. Where is it?

      1. Know-Dice
        February 20, 2018

        I believe that is still being paid to your beloved EU, may be you should ask them!!!

      2. JoolsB
        February 20, 2018

        “I want my £350m a week. Where is it?”

        Still going to the EU at the moment and if May gets her way will for some time yet.

      3. a-tracy
        February 20, 2018

        We haven’t left yet Andy and paid the terms of the exit notice.

      4. bigneil
        February 20, 2018

        Andy, I want my (Cameron’s ) reduction in immigration to “tens of thousands” as well.

      5. Jagman84
        February 20, 2018

        Brussels. And will be for some time if the Government doesn’t get its backside in gear and tell the EU what will happen , instead of kow-towing to Juncker & Co.

      6. Old Albion
        February 20, 2018

        The (dis)UK has to leave the EU first. I’m surprised you didn’t know that.

      7. Glenn Vaughan
        February 20, 2018

        Andy I don’t believe that £350 million per week would be sufficient to benefit you.

      8. alan jutson
        February 20, 2018


        Presently being paid the the EU every week , but remember you have to share it with the whole of the UK population when we finally get control of it.

      9. graham1946
        February 20, 2018

        We’re still giving it to the EU.

      10. rose
        February 20, 2018

        You can’t have it until we are out of your beloved protection racket.

      11. APL
        February 20, 2018

        Andy: “I want my £350m a week. Where is it?”

        Get out, get a job, and earn it.

      12. L Jones
        February 20, 2018

        Perhaps you should begin by enlightening us as to why we should remain shackled to your EU masters. Remainders always complain about leaving, but never tell us why we should remain.
        When you actually see that no money is being sent to the execrable EU and that we are that much better off, will you eat your words?
        I think not.

      13. Dennis Zoff
        February 20, 2018


        Agreed. Where is it, Andy?

      14. Anonymous
        February 20, 2018

        £350m ? When your side honours its promise to let us leave the EU !

        1. Anonymous
          February 20, 2018

          If we don’t get our £350m I think it’s now fair to say that it’s because Remain have sabotaged Brexit.

      15. Gordon
        February 20, 2018

        Andy – who promised you personally £350million per week and on what terms?

        If you are referencing the figure on the Red bus, sorry to disappoint you but it was never earmarked for you and is contingent upon the UK LEAVING the EU – is that hard to understand?

        As to the quantum; that was indeed wrong. The official HMT and OBR figures for 2016 show the following: Total gross contributions £23.148 billion (£445m a week).

      16. Edward2
        February 20, 2018

        We are still paying billions to the EU.
        We will continue to pay billions to the EU until we have left.
        Only then will there be a saving which can be redistributed to worthy causes such as thev one you suggest.
        I can’t wait.
        You too I expect, young Andy

      17. libertarian
        February 20, 2018


        Its not yours its ours and we get the £400 million per week when we leave the EU. Great stuff we leave AND get loads of money back

        Where is it you say, I guess you dont know Mr Junker has it

      18. Longinus III
        February 21, 2018

        How many more times must you be told? Foreign aid budget.

    3. Narrow Shoulders
      February 20, 2018

      I find little common ground with Nick Morgan but her point yesterday that much student debt will not be repaid but is not being shown as current government expenditure is pertinent.

      Labour can not afford it’s promises but the government of the day could have to write off tens of billions of pounds which will not be affordable too.

      A different funding model is required and the burden should fall on business which demands a degree from its recruits

      1. Mitchel
        February 20, 2018

        Capitalising(in the form of debt instruments) rather than expensing expenditure is a theme that runs right across government-here and elsewhere in the West.When the extend-and-pretend delusion evaporates,the result will not be pretty.

        1. NHSGP
          February 22, 2018

          Debt instruments – 10% of the debts.

          It’s the pensions, its all about the pensions, and they are hidden off the books. The government has told the ONS not to repeat its last exercise in quantifying that debt. It’s a deliberate policy to hide it.

          So that’s 10,000,000 million [10 trillion off the books]

          How are you going to pay your £430,000 share?

    4. a-tracy
      February 20, 2018

      Scots educated after 1998 and working in England should pay the same graduate tax at 9% otherwise they have a 9% wage advantage. English kids with grad taxes working in Scotland now have a double whammy as the Scots tax system is less generous at the higher earnings levels if they are successful, eventually, this will deter English people with graduate taxes from working in Scotland.

      1. fedupsoutherner
        February 20, 2018


        eventually, this will deter English people with graduate taxes from working in Scotland.

        Try telling that to the know it all SNP. They don’t listen to common sense.

      2. Sir Joe Soap
        February 20, 2018

        and persuade Scots kids to work in England.

    5. Know-Dice
      February 20, 2018


      Don’t EU students also get preferential treatment over English students?

      And 6.1% interest, clearly designed to make those that will pay back, will also cover the debts of those that don’t…

      1. a-tracy
        February 21, 2018

        Yes, EU students do Know-Dice, I would like to know is it just Scottish taxpayers funding the EU students loans and making up their gaps in payments to the Scottish Higher Education establishments or are UK wide taxes funding the large shortfall in fees.

        “And 6.1% interest, clearly designed to make those that will pay back, will also cover the debts of those that don’t…” Exactly the brightest, hardest working will pay for those that don’t achieve.

        1. JoolsB
          February 21, 2018

          Of course not. It is English taxes that is funding Scottish free tuition fees and EU fees. English taxes very generously provide free or heavily subsidised tuition fees for everyone except England of course.

    6. nhsgp
      February 20, 2018

      What’s needed is consent.

      When it comes to overseas aid, people should have the right of consent.

      If you consent, your tax money is spent overseas.

      If you do not consent, then you keep your tax money, or you could even allocated to other spending such as free uni education, the NHS.

      It’s your money, its your choice.

      The problem with MPs is that they act just like certain film producers and theatre directors/actors.

      Consent? Who cares, we’re taking your assets and if you don’t give them to us we will use violence.

      Consent matters. It protects minorities against the tyranny of the majority. It’s morally correct.

      It also tells governments directly if the public value their services. If people don’t want service X, then they opt out. That sends a clear message as to what people want.

      Now for common goods, where you get freeloaders opting out and still receiving, for example for a fire service, then its not allowed. Those funding do not consent to free loaders. Consent works both ways.

      1. bigneil
        February 20, 2018

        “It’s your money, its your choice” The govt takes our money and throws billions to other countries ( no choice )- -NOTHING changes for the better. Their population just gets bigger and the so does the amount thrown to their leaders bank accounts. Our “choice” is of absolutely NO concern to politicians ( until their promises for votes ).

        “Consent matters” Apparently not when it comes to harvesting organs if things change the way some want – – nor handing out free treatment to anyone who rolls into the country for the UK taxpayer to cough up for, after contributing , and having no intention of ever doing so, not a single penny.

        There is one group I would never ever give my consent to any of my organs going to. Unfortunately I am supposed to be opened for anyone, or not. No specifying allowed.

        1. nhsgp
          February 21, 2018

          I wrote to the organ register removing my consent because they have/are changing to presume consent.

          When government acts like abusive film producers, then its gone very wrong.

          That include taking body parts, taking assets without consent and with the use or threat of violence.

      2. Miss Brandreth-Jones
        February 20, 2018

        Pertinent points and I totally agree with the example of the majority overriding the minorities wish. You work in the NHS and probably understand how things can be swayed away from undertaking what is best to an inferior position which has been allowed by the majority ( using subtle persuasion and underhand tactics).Democracy and the ethical interests of individuals sometimes do not chime as they should. Consent though is an interesting perspective in itself and consent can be also be given short of correct and all of the facts. Here deliberate omission can turn over factual evidence .Sometimes these so called facts are opinions based on research which quite honestly if not representative of daily life at all but is given the validity of the truth , the whole truth and nothing but the truth,

        1. nhsgp
          February 21, 2018

          So here’s where I break from John Redwood.

          It’s about informed consent. The big state debts are as follows

          1. Borrowing
          2. Civil service pension – see above
          3. State pension [present value, past payments in only]
          4. Nuclear clean up
          5. PFI
          6. Unpaid invoices
          7. Unpaid wages
          8. Current losses on insurance [eg. Royal Mail pension fund, BT pension fund]
          9. The EU – since you’re a remainer

          Just one is on the books, the 1.5 trillion pound debt.

          The civil service pension is also 1.5 trillion and hidden in the footnotes. The reason is that civil servants can turn round to MPs and say, we told you about it, in the small print, pay up.

          State pension, 8.5 trillion.

          Total 12.5-13 trillion pounds.

          So why would John Redwood want the debts off the books? Why not send everyone a personal statement with their share and the breakdown every year?

          30% of taxes go on the debts.

          Why else do you think there is austerity?

          Would 30% of your tax help your take home pay?

          Would 165 bn to spend on services help with austerity?

          You can’t have it because its going on the debts

      3. Narrow Shoulders
        February 21, 2018

        Hypothecated taxes and public services paid for by the user. The way forward

    7. JoolsB
      February 20, 2018

      Totally agree. The only reason this review ( kicking the can down the road) is taking place is because of Corbyn’s promise to scrap fees. We all know it will be meaningless and toothless but it looks as though May is doing something.

      The aid budget by 2020 alone would almost cover scrapping student debt in England.

      UK Governments of all colours preside over discrimination between the nations of the UK, England, the only net contributor to the UK coffers being the target every time. Not only do they bung much more money per head to the devolved nations than they do England, but they have not a word to say about the fact not only does Scotland offer free tuition courtesy of English taxes, but they offer free tuition to everyone in Europe courtesy of English taxes. The English are the only ones charged the full £9,250 if they attend a Scottish university. Even Wales and NI are capped at around a third of English fees and the most insulting part of all is that Welsh students still only pay this smaller amount when studying at English universities alongside £9,250 fee paying English students.

      Discrimination at it’s best and a Tory Government, there by the grace of England, allow it. In other words, they couldn’t give a toss!!!

    8. acorn
      February 20, 2018

      Tertiary Education (COFOG 9.4) has and continues to be an Conservative Party “austerity” success.

      The government was spending about £15 billion on University students in 2010. Osborne managed to shift that public sector cost, onto those private sector students and their mums and dads, such that the government only spent £6.4 billion in 2016/17.

      Sadly, the English electorate is so poorly educated, it has no chance of understanding just how the Westminster Elite, screws them every chance it gets. Brexit will be no different.

      1. a-tracy
        February 21, 2018

        It doesn’t, the government pays the same it’s just an accounting fudge. Tell me how the taxpayers aren’t funding these loans to pay to the Universities, it’s a creative fudge alright but it hasn’t reducing the amount of cash coming out of the exchequer and flowing into our universities often for overpriced degrees, with one degree student cross subsidising another. If Geography and History cost less to deliver than chemistry why are they charged the same.

        If companies want people with a Chemistry degree they should be the organisations that pay sufficient wages or into the Universities to top up the funding of their required degrees. Not someone coming out with a Maths degree subsiding them.

        1. acorn
          February 23, 2018

          a-tracy, alas you don’t understand the subtleties of government deficit accounting (but it is an accounting fudge). Student loans do not appear as DfE spending in PESA.

          Currently, at face value, there are circa £89 billion of student loans. The Student Loan Company, has already written off circa £27 billion of those loans. Hence the high risk interest rate on outstanding loans because of the very high level of non-performing loans.

          Makes our net cash payment to the EU for 2016 at €5.5 billion (€12.7 b to the EU; 7.2 b back from the EU) look quite small; but don’t tell JR.

          1. a-tracy
            February 24, 2018

            The loans aren’t supposed to be written off for 25-30 years so why when student loans only started in 1998 have they been written off? I think it’s time a big light is shined on this by Panaroma, the BBC after all are paid out of our telly tax to inform us, or similar because it’s not adding up to people like me who don’t understand the subtleties of government anything!

            Why are you only looking to the net cash payment, who are you trying to kid, they don’t run the EU machine on €5.5bn let alone the payouts to the other 22. On the contrary were the written off loans to EU students who haven’t had to pay back?

            The original loans were only £3000 so why?

  2. Norman
    February 20, 2018

    The education system is broke, and needs root and branch reform. There’s far too much emphasis on ‘university’ qualifications, when what’s needed is a revaluing of technical and vocational roles. It’s hard to see how this top-heavy illusory affluence can be addressed, although market forces can help. It’s the cause of much political disaffection among the young, and mass migration is another major consequence.

    1. Peter
      February 20, 2018

      Correct. Education has been turned into a racket.

      Grammar schools enabled me to do well at school in the company of brighter, more academic pupils. Bitter public school types like Anthony Crosland set out to destroy such schools in the name “equality”. Elites do not worry about mass education as their offspring are educated privately.

      I paid no tuition fees for my degree. I got a generous grant to fund my studies, which coupled with holiday work meant I had no debts whatsoever. When I graduated a degree had a value in the marketplace and there was a salary premium. There used to be a book called the ‘Directory of Opportunities for Graduates’. This was stuffed full of all manner of jobs from leading employers all over the country. There was no such thing as unpaid internships.

      Nowadays universities are a major industry in themselves. They are run primarily for the benefit of the staff who work there, primarily the overpaid chancellors and vice chancellors. Most degrees no longer give graduates an edge in the marketplace. All that has happened is requirements for many jobs have been tightened so a degree is mandatory where A levels would previously suffice.

      Unfortunately because universities are now big business politicians are fearful of addressing this imbalance. Targets such as fifty per cent of the population going to university are ludicrous and most people know this.

      1. a-tracy
        February 20, 2018

        Lecturers are about to go on strike over their pensions. They only get an 18% contribution poor dears, the kids just have to suck this up in their final year and still get charged even though they’re getting nothing for two weeks. I hope the government forces the Universities to rebate their fees, they shouldn’t be able to charge for a service they aren’t providing.

        1. a-tracy
          February 20, 2018

          Two weeks off out of 30 weeks = £650 reduction please.

      2. rose
        February 20, 2018

        How many young people went to university with you? Wasit 3% ? You can’t have 50% getting it all free and being worth something at the other end.

        Academic subjects in those days were worth something in their own right, not as passports to jobs. Academic education and scholarship are not to be confused with technical training, but nowadays they all too often are.

      3. L Jones
        February 20, 2018

        There’s the rub – many students don’t believe they should actually work for their own keep in the holidays or in their spare time.

      4. Dennis Zoff
        February 20, 2018


        Excellent point and sums up the issue nicely.

        Too many worthless degrees are coming out of higher education, with the subsequent long-term financial burden for the Graduate. These Graduates apply for jobs that require particular subject matter education and training, such as Engineering. Their degrees are totally inadequate for the professional workplace and businesses do frown on them…mainly viewed as worthless and dumbed down degrees!

        It pains me to see so many applications for Engineering apprenticeships and placements from hopeful individuals that clearly have no chance with their degrees in irrelevant studies. The Government and Universities have been selling these pup degrees to students for years…and then the Government wonders why so many Graduates struggle to find worthwhile employment. We don’t need pup degrees, we need students to have practical applied Degrees that are beneficial to Graduates, businesses and society at large.

        Frankly, in my circles, the majority of non-science/engineering Degrees are a complete joke, but we do not blame the students for this predicament!

      5. Monty
        February 20, 2018

        Quite right Peter. And of the nearly 50% who attend, 75% will get a first or upper second, and no-one will fail. Now those qualifications, once the gold standard of academic achievement, are close to worthless.
        Whole thing is a racket, and a cruel hoax against our own youngsters.

      6. Narrow Shoulders
        February 21, 2018

         Most degrees no longer give graduates an edge in the marketplace. All that has happened is requirements for many jobs have been tightened so a degree is mandatory where A levels would previously suffice.

        Here lies the heart of the problem. £50K of debt just to stand still.

        Business should be interviewing in the sixth form and offering on the job training to the bright rather than mandating degrees for entry level positions.

    2. libertarian
      February 20, 2018



      Education is not fit for purpose any longer. GCSE’s , A levels and most degrees are all worthless in the job market

  3. sm
    February 20, 2018

    Why not allow STEM degrees to be free, on condition that the student signs a legally-binding contract to remain working in the UK for, say, five years after graduation?

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      February 20, 2018

      Indeed, you don’t even need a contract. Offer graduated bursaries to students who study in-demand subjects, in the form of 100% income tax relief, so that their first few years’ UK income tax is used 100% to pay off the loan.

    2. Spratt
      February 20, 2018

      The problem with that is that jobs may not necessarily be available. This is apparently the case in IT – possibly due to offshoring of IT by big communications companies. But , broadly, you are right. Health care degrees would be primary candidates for some sort of discounted fee system and a return to something like the old apprenticeship model. For example, it is lunacy for nursing students to be taking care jobs in university holidays to help pay their way when there could be a sandwich course that gives them proper paid healthcare assistant work that is a formal part of the degree and their fee debt could be abolished if they work 5 years full time for the NHS. Similarly, why pay ‘physician’s assistants’ and phlebotomist when senior medical students could be playing a formal role. Back in the 70s in teaching hospitals the students were a vital part of keeping the hospital going and they learned important practical skills as well as there being no need for various ancillary jobs. Money spent on these jobs nowadays could usefully defray tuition costs and there would be less need to import people to do them.

    3. Gary C
      February 20, 2018

      RE: Why not allow STEM degrees to be free, on condition that the student signs a legally-binding contract to remain working in the UK for, say, five years after graduation?

      Make it ten years and I’d agree.

      1. Mark
        February 20, 2018

        What happens to a graduate who joins a company that secures a major export project to build an industrial plant overseas? No opportunity to go abroad and manage part of the project. If the company cannot use its employees to support exports, it will not employ UK graduates.

    4. Jane4brexit
      February 20, 2018

      STEM degrees being free of fees was costed as possible in UKIP’s 2015 manifesto, subject to qualifying terms which I am not sure of, and in their last year manifesto it said no fees would would be extended to other subjects when affordable.

      I have taken an interest in this as the introduction of fees seems a point that Brexiteers should and could use to argue their case. The timing of the introduction of fees seems linked to when all European students would be able attend UK universities on the same basis as UK students, free previously. Brown even introduced a subsidised savings account to be paid to those born in the UK at 18 along side these fees, which is no longer subsidised but still seem to suport the possibility that fees are/were necessary for this reason.

      I understand few EU loans are collected and the EU refused to allow a scheme helping the UK do this Europe wide. Couldn’t Brexit supporting MPs and others use this argument to gather more support from students and their parents, especially if any change was linked to our full exit?

      Meanwhile now WASPI age women have been told to train up as apprentices by this government, surely the maximum age for loans should be extended. A student loan would be one way to help us.

      1. a-tracy
        February 20, 2018

        Good points Jane.

    5. a-tracy
      February 20, 2018

      How does working in the UK for 5 years pay back the equivalent of a £57,000 loan at 9% of their salary over £21,000 for 30 years? Look my son did a STEM Master’s degree and I don’t agree that he shouldn’t pay but my other two should because their strengths and specialities were in different fields.

    6. JoolsB
      February 20, 2018

      Because that would require common sense and vision – something May and this Government lack big time!!!

  4. Fedupsoutherner
    February 20, 2018

    Obviously we must be giving too much money to Scotland if they can afford free education. Then they have the neck to charge English students. Students should not be allowed to move abroad without paying leaving the tax payer with the debt. Too many people are attending uni now for Mickey Mouse degrees and more apprenticeship s would be appropriate. Cut the money we give away and reduce fees.

  5. Newmania
    February 20, 2018

    The problem with the current system is simple enough . Those children who can rely on the bank of mum and dad will feel quite differently about doing art and folk dancing for £50,000 of your earth pounds to the ordinary bod, who will take plumbing .
    This is unfair, unhealthy, and has already had a divisive effect on society . It Has enfeebled the Arts and created a well of bitterness amongst those who feel inferior , causing them to do idiotic things like vote to be poorer . Ironically , in this exercise in self harm they are egged on by privileged public school boys whose incomes from inventing jokes like ”remoaner” will ensure that their children never meet the scum.
    The answer is to sweep away the pyramid of snobbery on which academia sits in generally worthless splendour and create the budget BA Hons

    The budget BA Hons will be 90% on line
    Lectures – U Tube –Harvard might be a good place to source ( I often do )
    A Tutor would cover several thousand by email
    Exams however would be strictly invigilated and adhere to internationally recognised standards without any course work involved .
    2 years max

    Such a degree could comfortably be delivered at a third of the cost and be a far better and more respected qualification than most of those people are wasting money on now

    Amazon could do it

    Problem solved and it is only the the same soltuion that has slashed costs in every other walk of life so why not ?

    1. Richard1
      February 21, 2018

      I think that’s right education will move much more online. Already now if you put your mind to it you can access top quality education without being a full time member of a university. That should make it much cheaper and therefore more accessible.

  6. Colin Hide
    February 20, 2018

    As someone who spent his life working in HE.

    Universities are awash with money. Many of the new buildings in the U.K. are built by HE.

    Everyone in HE knew that a graduate tax was the fairest and best thing for the country – none said it – as they just wanted to get their money.

    Not enough is spent on students – rather on vanity projects dreamt up by the VC.

    It always amazed me how poorly Universitties were run given the amount of clever people in them!

    The state should fund courses that are useful to the state for industry not a blanket subsidy across the board.

    There has never been any serious cost cutting in HE so plenty to go at.

  7. Sir Joe Soap
    February 20, 2018

    1 work out which subjects are in demand and offer the requisite number of University bursaries in the form of UK income tax relief to pay off debt after graduating.
    2 set up an equivalent scheme for apprenticeships, whereby employers are paid a sum, in the same way as University lecturers, to coach apprentices on the basis that apprentices come out with a proper training.
    3 maintain your tough stance on debt repayments for courses which are taken more as a hobby than leading to any productive employment.
    4 the practice of remaining lax on debt by saying “Oh, it doesn’t matter if you don’t earn enough to repay your debt, because it’ll be written off anyway”. This is classically BAD teaching to young people about the meaning of debt. Writing debt off is a LAST RESORT, and shouldn’t be casually referred to by politicians such as yourself, Clegg etc as a way of avoiding student debt being a debt. Where would we be if all students treated this so casually?

    1. a-tracy
      February 20, 2018

      “The practice of remaining lax on debt by saying “Oh, it doesn’t matter if you don’t earn enough to repay your debt, because it’ll be written off anyway”. This is classically BAD teaching to young people about the meaning of debt. ”

      I absolutely agree, plus where is the money going to come from to write this debt down by the future government every year from 2042? Is there a savings fund for this set on one side, otherwise those grads that did pay off will be paying even higher income/pension taxes and will thus be taxed twice for their education.

  8. Lifelogic
    February 20, 2018

    At least two thirds of the degrees people obtain in the UK are of little or no value at all and certainly not worth the 50K of debt with interest on it accruing at 3K PA. The education Secretary with his PPE at Oxford should surely realise this as should geographer May.

    The government should not be funding hobby subjects at all. With online lectures and educational materials there is huge scope for cutting the costs of education down to almost nothing for most subjects.

    I would probably fund only Maths, science, medicine, dentistry, engineering, building skills, vets, accountants and the likes. Let people pay for their own hobby subjects which need cost very little in most cases anyway and could be done part time while working. We have about ten times as many lawyers as would be needed if we had a sensible legal system already so we need no more of them.

    The argument that graduates earn more over a lifetime through having a degree is duff outside a few professional subjects. They earn more because the were the brighter ones in the first place. The usual confusion of cause and effect so beloved of dishonest politicians.

    The better universities are quite a good place to find a pleasant, bright, attractive and rich wifes or husband though my was alas not rich. But three out of four is not too bad.

    Giving bright young people a £50K loan to start a business would in many cases be government money far better spent.

    1. a-tracy
      February 20, 2018

      So you wouldn’t have paid for Mr Redwood’s history degree? or his DPhil?

      I would say Mrs May’s degree presented her with excellent work opportunities throughout her life?

    2. Lifelogic
      February 20, 2018

      I see that the new education Secretary has said:- ” All forms of education, all courses, all subjects have great value, have great worth”. What a complete dope he is, being “non judgemental” one assumes. Or totally lacking in judgement and any discrimination. Astrology, green crap, quack medicine, divinity and homeopathy the same value as maths, physics, medical science or engineering one assumes.

      How can anyone sensible think this? Much of “education” in the UK is indoctrination with unscientific, politically correct and religious drivel. Or magic money tree big government economics.

      Why else would only 5 MP vote against the climate change act. Why do we have a chancellor to taxes everything to death. Why are so many young people taken in by green crap or other daft religions. Many even go on to teach them and infect others too at our schools and universities.


    3. Lifelogic
      February 20, 2018

      The Sun leader is quite right today. T May has her priorities all wrong:-

      “the Prime Minister is merely ‘tinkering’ in a bid to match Corbyn’s ‘economically insane’ promise of free tuition. She should stop doing so now …… her promised shake-up is ‘a distraction from what really matters to millennials’: the ‘dire shortage’ of homes. ‘Suffocating planning rules, sluggish developers and NIMBYs’ should be the Tories’ target – not tuition fees”

      Plus she should stop her government regulating everything to death and stop Hammond taxing everything to death too (particularly his absurd attacks on Tenants via absurd taxation through landlords. Get the government out of the b***** way please.

    4. L Jones
      February 20, 2018

      Very well said, Lifelogic. I think most of us would agree with that. But when were our politicians (or the civil servants that pull their strings) sensible?

    5. Miss Brandreth-Jones
      February 20, 2018

      The problem with this account are the legal aspects and ability to put theories into good English .Science subjects require much involvement with the humanities and humanities such as PPE degrees need a science ability. It is the art of making science work.

  9. Andy
    February 20, 2018

    I enjoy reading your posts. It is really rather quaint that you think this zombie government will achieve anything.

    The reality is that the Conservatives are so all consumed by Brexit that nothing else of note will happen until you are removed from office. Which you will be in 2022.

    I particularly like today’s news that The Netherlands is hiring nearly 1000 extra customs and border staff specifically to deal with the extra bureaucracy associated with the stated policy of the hard-right Tory Brexiteers.

    How many extra bureaucrats does the UK need to help us cut Brussels red tape Mr Redwood?


    1. Ed Mahony
      February 20, 2018

      It is true. Hard Brexit will create new layers of bureaucracy in this country.

      However, i think there’s a good chance the Tories will win in 2022. But I predict then that Labour will return to the centre ground. And that they would then win in 2027, with perhaps the Conservative Party out of power for years (with the UK perhaps returning to the EU in a second referendum, with a 60:40 or 65:35 Remain win, but returning under worse conditions than before, and 10 good years wasted on building up our economy and country in general).

      The evidence is all pointing that the numbers in Hard Brexit don’t add up. Our country simply doesn’t have the 1. wealth or 2. the leadership or 3. support or 4. strategy to last 10 or 20 years of hosility. It doesn’t have the legs. We’re simply ditching logic + strategy for ideology + wishful thinking.

      If people want Hard Brexit, fine, but first apply logic + strategy to achieving that. I’m pretty sure this is what the historians, politicians and economists of the future will say. But people don’t want to listen. Rather put their hands over their ears or dig their heads in the sand – this doesn’t / never works.

      1. Ed Mahony
        February 20, 2018

        (and i might be wrong – but i’m willing to debate – are others?)

        (again this isn’t just about what’s best for our country but also what’s feasible and what isn’t at the moment – Hard Brexit could, however, become more feasible in the future)

      2. Ed Mahony
        February 20, 2018

        Also, it might be that in around 10 years, Europe will have a big debate about where it wants to go. There’s a good chance, many in Europe will agree the EU has become too political and this doesn’t serve the ultimate global political aims of the content which is 1. prosperity 2. peace (peace stems from prosperity and democracy from peace).

        The EU would then return to being the EEC. A trade agreement as opposed to a political agreement. Most Brexiters, most remainers, most people in business, and most people in security, would be happy for this country and Europe to return to the EEC.

        History shows that if you jolt a country too much with something (i.e. Brexit) it can have series consequences, economically, politically and socially. Hard Brexit – now – is just too reckless. Lacking in logic, strategy and overall geopolitical good sense.

        And if Europe doesn’t agree to return to the EEC, then the UK can think again about Hard Brexit. But first we need to 1. Build up our wealth to pay for it 2. Find a strong leader 3. Get strong support from the country and 4. Have a properly strategy in place.

        How can anyone argue with this? If i’m wrong, happy to be corrected.

    2. Edward2
      February 20, 2018

      The stated policy is for free trade and open borders.
      Frictionless trade as it is often referred to.
      WTO rules if that cannot be agreed.
      There is no need for the Dutch to recruit.

    3. Anonymous
      February 20, 2018

      Oh let’s call the whole thing off. It’s a bit too hard.


    4. L Jones
      February 20, 2018

      It is you, rather, who are ”consumed by Brexit”. Perhaps you should consider that it is the mainstream media who are thus ”consumed”. You wouldn’t get to know what else ”of note” is going on unless you do a bit more research. You remain people are very narrow in your outlook, probably actively seeking those news items that might reinforce your somewhat shallow view of the world outside the EU.
      Perhaps you’d like to tell us why you are always so gleeful at the idea of the UK failing, and are positively excited when you tell us how this might happen.
      It is undignified and disloyal to your country. Perhaps you might like to offer something relevant to today’s subject, rather than seek an opportunity to denigrate Dr Redwood and the UK generally.

    5. Richard1
      February 20, 2018

      No need unless the EU decides to start a trade war.

    6. libertarian
      February 20, 2018


      Really pleased that the Dutch are hiring between 750 and 900 people, EU needs all the new jobs they can get. Only need another 5 million more jobs to get the EU unemployment level down to the same as UK

      Glad we could help them

  10. Lifelogic
    February 20, 2018

    What on earth make some people waste £80K + on a totally impractical electric car as two of my rich but daft friends have recently done. Something that will be worth nothing in 5 years time and is clearly inferior (and even less environmental) than a £4K second hand people carrier?

    I see Tesla sales in Hong Kong have died a death now that the tax perks have gone. Electric car sales declining in the US too as more people realise how daft they are with current technology. Plug in hybrids do have a place I suppost to get cleaner air in city centres.

  11. Nig l
    February 20, 2018

    I hope this review is broader than your comments namely looking to see if a university education is value/the best option for students and the future of the economy. Do we need more technical colleges less social sciences etc and then how these are ‘sold’ by schools to the potential students? Does higher education need to be rebalanced?

    If it is not I think it will be a lost opportunity. Next stop, a royal commission on the NHS please. Try and move it out of the political arena.

  12. duncan
    February 20, 2018

    Maybe this government should focus on the de-politicisation of all UK education and disinfecting it of left wing political thought

    Teachers, lecturers and their respective unions are purveyors of political education and dogma. We need a government who reforms a publicly financed sector and retrains its focus on education rather than on indoctrination of young minds

    Unfortunately we have a PM who’s even further to the social left than New Labour was. May’s obsession with all things liberal left effectively means that education is no longer confined to academic subjects but widens its remit to include the socialisation and politicisation of young children and young people

    We are churning out political and social robots and at vast expense

  13. Dave Andrews
    February 20, 2018

    Make the Universities pay back the fees portion of unpaid student debt.
    That should sharpen their approach to offering useless degrees.

    1. Adam
      February 20, 2018

      Sensible arrangements lead to better outcomes.

    2. L Jones
      February 20, 2018

      That’s a good point, Dave A. It would certainly concentrate their minds!

  14. Old Albion
    February 20, 2018

    Much of the problem can be traced back to Blair. When he said everyone should be able to go to university.
    Now we have students studying worthless subjects filling the Uni’s. Students who would have done better going into manual work or apprentice training.
    Even so, the education at Uni. seems to be failing. On the news yesterday, not one student asked why the (dis)UK Gov. imposes fees on students in England, whilst Scotland gives it free to not only Scots, but EU students too only

    1. JoolsB
      February 20, 2018

      Sadly, although hopefully the numbers are declining and people in England are beginning to take notice of the discrimination hurled at them on a daily basis from UK Governments, there are obviously still some who aren’t aware of this discrimination against them especially as May and her sidekick in their speech on fees yesterday disingenuously and deliberately went on and on about Britain instead of England. I lost count of the number of times she said Britain yet England only twice and that was probably a mistake that she’ll have kicked herself about afterwards. They even stood behind a sign with Britain instead of England on. This deliberate conflation and ploy by politicians to mislead by omitting the word England when talking about England only policies is to try and hide the fact that England and England alone is being singled out for their punitive and discriminatory policies.

    2. fedupsoutherner
      February 20, 2018

      Old Albion. With the generous Barnett Formula Scotland can afford a lot of free stuff that England can’t. I am surprised that someone hasn’t taken the issue of free education for EU students while the English pay to court. Discrimination on a big scale I would say.

    3. rose
      February 20, 2018

      That was originally John Major’s idea. He hadn’t gone to university himself and wanted everyone to go.

  15. Anonymous
    February 20, 2018

    We need fewer students and fewer academics.

  16. Caterpillar
    February 20, 2018

    1) The signalling function of education should be able to be achieved by the end of school. Only progress on the basis of achievement not age, provide more institutes for excluded pupils and use them, get Ofsted’s madness out (design don’t inspect for quality).
    2) No cap for fees.
    3) tax payer to only underwrite up to, say 30k, a student, universities themselves to underwrite anything higher.
    4) disintermediate the universities by offering nationally provided level 4,5,6 exams in some subjects e.g. maths, stats, econ – students only have to pay for the exam, but signalling function to employers is clear.
    5) limit the cheap labour from outside UK so employers move to skill up their staff … why aren’t they paying for the skills?
    6) tax incentives for part timers in education
    7) work to residence scheme for high performing international students

    1. Miss Brandreth-Jones
      February 20, 2018

      When it comes to making money Universities are realising that education is for all at any age and a life long pursuit. Prior to the financial aspect Universities such as UCLAN recognised that a few years at University as a young adult do not necessarily equate to a good all round education. UCLAN does have an excellent ethics faculty and are mature in their approach.

  17. Narrow Shoulders
    February 20, 2018

    As business demands degrees from its recruits the apprentice levy should be extended to cover university education. The £3 million annual payroll threshold can be dropped to half a million pounds to encompass as many organisations which specify a degree is required.

    Government quid pro quo should be to reduce the number of places funded by business and only to apply it to courses business values. Business would be wise to value some of the arts courses as they are required by society.

    Other courses can be paid for by students if they really want to pursue those studies.

    Overall it is incumbent upon business to train up the workforce it needs.

  18. oldtimer
    February 20, 2018

    There is another option. Let universities charge what they think the market will bear qualified by limits on foreign students and a grant system for UK students. Grants are not new. My charitable donations are mostly towards sixth form bursaries for those who could not otherwise afford that education and towards post graduate research bursaries.

  19. alan jutson
    February 20, 2018

    Not been to University so am unaware of the finer points of the way it operates, but given the very limited time that a student actually undergoes personal tuition, I fail to understand why courses are as long as three or four years.

    Aware self study and research is supposed to be an important part of any course, but why does a student have to be away from home to complete such.
    Why cannot a University student do all such research and study at home, and simply travel in on the one day a week (a typical number of hours I am told) for their personal tuition.

    Why are not more courses offered on the basis of the Open University model, where people can learn whilst they earn.

    Seems to me much could have been learned from the old Tech College courses of the past, where students completed studies on a day release arrangement from work.

    Me thinks far too many people think University education is some sort elite teaching, when it is really simply further education, which has been made elite due to its cost and inefficient operation.

    1. a-tracy
      February 20, 2018

      Alan, perhaps you live in a well-connected area local to lots of good Russell Group research universities nearby but many of us don’t live in those places and there are no local opportunities in the degree the teenager wants or needs to do. The transport infrastructure and cheap public transport aren’t there for teens that want to study near home. If you have to pass your test, buy a car and pay for insurance at 18-21 its probably cheaper to live away from home.

      1. alan jutson
        February 21, 2018


        There will always be those who given their talents want or would benefit/need to go to a Russel Group Top University to make the most of their talents, but they I would suggest are in the minority compared to those numbers who use and attend, the rather more standard facilities available.

        Of course you cannot please everyone, and Universities for most students are perhaps not just around the corner as they are usually located in Cities, but usually where there is a will, there is a way.

        Its all about choice, earn while you learn, or get in debt to learn.

        The Government will never be able to please everyone.

        I certainly believe that some courses should be free, providing students on such courses would sign up to work for 5-10 years after qualification, as a sort of payback to the taxpayer/Country.
        Doctors, Nurses, Pathologists, etc, etc, etc.

        The armed forces operate such a system, and they earn whilst they learn as well.

        The present system only suits a few, not the many, its busted.
        The only saving grace financially, is overseas students in their thousands who pay huge amounts per year to study here, and who therefore subsidise our own students.

    2. treacle
      February 20, 2018

      The teaching cannot all be on the same day each week because of timetabling. The courses have to be taught at times that don’t clash with the other courses that students are taking, and that necessitates using five days a week, not one. Also, the lecturers each deliver many courses, and they cannot give two or more lectures or classes at the same time.

      But the main point that you miss is that students WANT to study somewhere other than the town they grew up in. The want the whole uni experience in a city of their own choosing. They don’t want to live with their parents six days a week and, on the seventh, take a bus into town, attend eight lectures and borrow 30 books from the library to take home.

      1. alan jutson
        February 21, 2018


        Your second paragraph is enlightening.

        If people who do not work and have no income, want to live away from home, then I am afraid there is a cost to either them or their parents, why should other taxpayers fund such a lifestyle choice.

        I simply do not believe that altering a time table to suit a majority is that difficult a task.
        I remember this sort of excuse being made by consultants about hospital theatres not being able to be used at weekends until a businessman got everyone around a table and showed them how easy and beneficial it could be for everyone.

  20. Ian wragg
    February 20, 2018

    The utter contempt shown by May for the English. There is only English students who pay full fees and only the English subsidising the rest of the UK.
    She stood under u UK banner as she does when discussing the NHS. Unable to say England.

  21. Eric Sorensen
    February 20, 2018

    As a foreigner I am surprised how separated the education system is from the country’s needs. Without a solid output of doctors, nurses, engineers, economists, bio technicians, IT nerds, etc. the country ends up further down the current slide. All the while youngsters are “forcefully” made vote Labour, and quite understandably so.

    The Government should work hard to boost educations that actually serve the country, like China and India are doing full steam, and dial down on a steadily growing output of candidates with master in classics, drama and the like. Great for hobby sharpening but little good to the country.

    In Denmark, fat chance if you want to study classics because the openings are reduced by law, but the Government will happily support you financially with GBP 500 monthly if you want to become an engineer.

    In the UK the universities are busy serving engineering students from abroad.

    1. rose
      February 20, 2018

      Very well said, Eric. We need to concentrate on technical training of all sorts and confine academic scholarship to academic scholars.

    2. forthurst
      February 20, 2018

      Eric, the obvious flaw in your argument is that without useless degree courses for mediocre minds being provided by our universities, most of our politicians would have to enter parliament without letters after their names.

      Unfortunately because our government contains so many stupid people, the deliberate destruction of our nation by an enemy particularly within academe is being facilitated without opposition. There should be no excuses why we cannot train all our own medical staff, why men who do not give birth as yet are not given preference over those that naturally do: feminism is a blatant scam to stop women having and raising children.

    3. rick hamilton
      February 20, 2018

      Absolutely right. The first priority of any government should be to work out how the country is going to earn its living, then to direct investment and motivate education accordingly for the good of the nation. The growing economies of East Asia do just that.

      It is no good leaving such an important matter to the vagaries of the markets or the dreams of the young and hope for the best. In my view the abandonment of interest in manufacturing industry by politicians and their mania for financial services merely reflects the natural instincts of a political class stuffed with arts graduates, lawyers and PR types. Manufacturing obviously creates wealth – you start with a pile of raw materials and end up with something useful, like a car. Financial services is largely playing with other peoples’ assets and although it may bring money into the country, I can’t see that tangible new wealth is created.

      We need much more participation of business and science/ engineering types in government if we actually want to compete globally and not just talk about it.

  22. Iain Moore
    February 20, 2018

    The international Tin Council was set up to ‘stabilise ‘ tin prices, here Governments put a floor price in the market, of course being politicians they set it at a level where even the Cornish tin mines made money , they got overwhelmed by supplies of tin, the support operation went bust , and the Governments tried to walk away from their responsibilities. UNCTAD came up with another market support operation for Natural Rubber , with a buffer stock manager working on a sliding scale to purchase and sell rubber in price ranges. Again this did not have the desired effect, for rather than market price wandering around the mid range where no buffer stock manager intervention was required, it headed straight to the support or sell price ranges, for the simple reason when traders are trying get a feel for the supply and demand balance, having a great big buffer stock manager buying price confronting everybody, it became an over whelming attraction. I get a sense that the same has occurred with tuition fees, the Government puts a cap of £9250 fee on courses , and it doesn’t become a limit for high cost and value courses, but a target price for all university courses, even the mickey mouse ones. The Governments failure to get variable fees is their failure to understand market psychology. You would think a Conservative Government would know better, but after Mrs T they haven’t really been a conservative party, the ERM debacle was evidence enough of that, and Mrs May has a habit of leaping to the wrong solutions.

  23. Epikouros
    February 20, 2018

    Students suffer from how we structure education. Belatedly to some extent that has been recognised as the remorseless grip of the state has been slowly removed and more freedom given to those who provide and receive education. It should be given more freedoms but it has been a good start. Universities have in theory have always been free but in practice it is a different story because when an institution, business, organisation or individual is beholden to the state for its income in full or in part then they behave in the interests of the state and not those who they serve.

    The state in turn is a wretched master and overseer as it itself is plagued by the vagaries and whims of those who are empowered to control and run it’s business. It is at the mercy of politicians and bureaucrats who undoubtedly mean well but do not have the competence or impartiality to do so. They cannot make decisions or formulate policies that can efficiently satisfy demands of a complex, fickle and constantly in flux society. They do not have the necessary constantly changing information to hand and they have to be ever on their guard to protect their power and position which they revere above all else out of that all too familiar human desire self interest.

    So if our children are to be properly educated then and be taught how to think and not what to think and that to a standard that is not only appropriate(horses for courses) but also to the highest standard then it should be free of any influence of the state. As we have seen whilst it does have that influence it lets down parents and students and creates an environment that although it is meant to impose so called social justices it instead makes for injustices, lowers standards, miserable debts, many worthless qualifications and rampant abuse of the system.

    1. Mark
      February 20, 2018

      Part of the problem seems to be that many universities are now demanding that students do not think and debate for themselves, but rather, absorb a received mainly left wing opinion. They are disciples of Lysenkoism, not of enlightenment.

  24. Richard1
    February 20, 2018

    The interest rate needs to be fairer and reflect the fact that this is a deferred tax. 2-3% over the Base rate would seem to be reasonable. The trigger for repayment should be when the student is earning a clear premium – perhaps 10% over the average wage. An attempt should be made to get those who work abroad to repay. Universities need to get more imaginative with shortening courses – students don’t need six months holiday. Let’s make it three months and do two year courses where possible, cutting the cost.

    The lecturers going on strike during the exam season are a disgrace. The cancer of politicised union militancy lives on only at universities and on the railways. Selected performance related firings should be the response – many of these people are not worth what they are paid and could be replaced by more effective candidates from around the world.

  25. Shieldsman
    February 20, 2018

    Past Governments have created a Higher Education System that is not fit for purpose.
    The idea of some politicians that more University places are necessary to meet workplace demand have proven wrong. It has only created a group of young people with no skills who have remained out of the workplace for a further three years and a large debt that they may never pay off.

    We need to go back to the past, with day study at Technical and Colleges of Further Education which were fully funded for young students.

  26. JimS
    February 20, 2018

    Once someone establishes a means of accreditation for ‘on-line universities’ all of these millionaire VCs and their Marxist group-think faculties will find their true economic worth – zero.

  27. Rien Huizer
    February 20, 2018

    Sorry to say that I agree with you completely. Better for the government to upgrade more job-related education, but few people disagree with that. Most European countries need more plumbers, not more anthropologists (although anthropology appears a useful subject for brexologists).

    1. Anonymous
      February 20, 2018

      Proctology being the most suitable subject for Remainers.

  28. a-tracy
    February 20, 2018

    Who decides who a ‘good’ student is? “subsidise good UK students”. Like it is now with scholarships going to very wealthy children of connected parents working in the University sectors or high-level jobs? So some students from the ‘wrong’ families end up loaning £57,000 then more for masters or borrowing money from elsewhere so they don’t have a 15% tax over £21,000. And others get a free pass all the way through their education, not because they have any more merit or skill but because they are the selected ‘good’.

  29. ChrisS
    February 20, 2018

    Firstly, from March 2019 EU law will no longer apply and the utterly disgraceful discrimination against English Students attending Scottish Universities MUST end.
    How the Scottish Government resolves the issue is up to them but stop it must.

    Secondly, There are far too many students attending universities and the standard required to attain a degree has to have fallen as a result. In addition, the quality and value for money of many courses is poor.

    One would have thought that if a student is intelligent enough to get to Uni he or she would be able to recognise whether a particular course would be worth paying upwards of £50,000 in terms of job prospects and future remuneration. Clearly many students are not yet making that link.

    For decades we have had a need for graduate engineers and scientists but there are no where near enough students with the A Levels needed to get onto a science or engineering course and there are not enough places to satisfy industry as there should be.

    Unfortunately the education system is so elitist that it only promotes university education and nothing else. Then we have the ludicrous concept that it doesn’t matter what course you choose because it will teach you to think for yourself and do research etc and that will be what your future employer needs. This is bunkum.

    We now have courses of little intrinsic value designed for students who thirty years ago would never have qualified to go to Uni can get that essential tick in the box on their CV. Universities are happy to support this charade because they get £9,000 for every kid that comes through the door, irrespective of the quality of the course on offer.

    Nobody should be incurring £50,000 of debt to qualify them to work in a call centre !

    Thirdly, we need a much greater emphasis on worthwhile ( and more difficult) subjects such as engineering and science. That will only happen when everyone associated with the system stops promoting a degree, any kind of degree, as a ticket to a better life and riches.

    That includes, employers, schools and parents.

  30. a-tracy
    February 20, 2018

    John, I have a dilemma, I want to save up my comments on this post and just post once today because this is a big issue for me with three children one pre-2012 who will pay off his graduate loan and two post 2012 who are facing much longer payback and impossible to clear interest that was mis-sold to them as neither realised they were accruing 6.1% interest whilst training and not working, the eldest’s loan didn’t do that and this wasn’t explained clearly to the teenagers or their parents by your government. Plus the statement of interest came in after the course ended not during, you owe £57,000 instead.

    However, if I then send a long post they get held in moderation because there is too much work for you to do to clear them. So please excuse me because I can’t stay silent on this one.

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      February 20, 2018

      I agree
      6.1% interest if you weren’t told about it previously is immoral.
      Worse than loan sharks infact.

  31. formula57
    February 20, 2018

    A review that is non-strategic will at best tinker and deliver complexity and disappointment is a depressing idea but of course something must be done and a review is something. (Is it a component of being strong and stable?)

    On a strategic level, let us recognize that half the jobs in the economy do not need graduates to fill them so the Blair aspiration of seeing half of schoolies attend university is bound to leave too many without expected lifetime rewards. The inducing of such people to take on c.£60,000 of debt and setting themselves back in the start of their careers/working life by attending indifferent degree mills that often enough fail to train them in independent learning is the proper subject for a review. Against that, let us also recognize that half a million pound vice chancellors do not pay for themselves so perhaps the circus should continue?

  32. Man of Kent
    February 20, 2018

    Oh to have the US system where there is a proper market in degrees !
    The difference is that the best American Colleges have huge endowments – the last time I looked at Harvard it was over USD 12 billion. This enables them to hire the best professors and subsidise the brightest students on a ‘ needs blind ‘ basis .
    If you have the money and can afford to build a facility on campus then you will be able to get a place for your sibling .

    I sometimes think it would be cheaper and more efficient if Government were to hand out an endowment to each university and then let them sink or swim on the results they get .

    1. Spratt
      February 20, 2018

      The US has an ingrained culture of saving for college throughout a child’s life and of teenagers working through their 3 month summer vacation to add to their college fund. They also have a culture of wealthier graduates giving back to their college to help the next generation.

  33. English Pensioner
    February 20, 2018

    We need to bring back the Technical Colleges and Polytechnics.
    There is no need for every one to have a degree, for practical subjects students need ‘hands-on’ experience, and the ability to achieve a suitable technical qualification, particularly in engineering. How can one be a proper apprentice without going to college part time as many did in the past?
    We need to reduce the costs of qualifying in professions that the country needs, such as doctors, nurses, engineers and scientists. I would fully support the idea of helping such students through taxation provided they undertook to work here for some defined period. Perhaps the repayment of their fees say five years after they qualify if they are still working in the subject they studied in this country.

    I am against all the ‘Micky Mouse’ degrees, I recently noted that one could get a degree in ‘Personal Training’! If there is indeed such a subject, it should be taught at a polytechnic, one can hardly imagine that it has much academic content.

    Perhaps there is also a need to address the question of why employers want degrees for relatively low level jobs. Could it be because the “A” levels aren’t what they were sixty years ago when many jobs simply required 3 “A” levels?

    But most importantly, Bring back the Technical Colleges.

    1. Lifelogic
      February 20, 2018

      A levels and O levels are certainly not what they were. Look at maths, Further maths and Physic papers now and in say 1970’s and compare.

  34. Bob
    February 20, 2018

    @Mr Redwood,
    Is the student loan debt the next sub prime fiasco?
    Could the costs of tuition be covered instead by a reduction of foreign aid squandering?
    Seems to me that the are lots people doing very nicely on generous remuneration packages from charities that receive large handouts from the aid budget.

  35. Man of Kent
    February 20, 2018

    Soon after the student loans scheme started and a market in degrees was supposed to be established I thought what a good idea !
    I might indulge my interest in Military History by working for a degree .
    The problem was and is that all the degrees whether from Open University or local or faraway institutions all cost the same , over £10,000 per year for 3 years .

    I am afraid that at that sort of price my interest has been furthered in other ways !

    1. Caterpillar
      February 20, 2018

      Man of Kent, history degree for half that at university of London distance learning (search London international for background). Some other degrees cheaper than that.

    2. JoolsB
      February 21, 2018

      Man of Kent – yet again these fees only apply in England!

  36. nhsgp
    February 20, 2018

    1. Ban profits in the state university sector.

    2. Ban cross subsidies.


    This lists the fees charged and the cost of providing the courses.

    Take Durham.

    £5.3 K a year cost, charging £9.25K

    That’s excessive profiteering.

    1. treacle
      February 20, 2018

      Have you ever met Durham students? £9, 250 is small change to most of them. Their parents drive 4x4s that cost more than the total sum of their child’s 3-year university education.

  37. Adam
    February 20, 2018

    Educating its people to their highest capability is an intelligent cause sensible Govts maintain. However, degree qualification, which is needed to distinguish rank of achievement, has to ensure failure. Without failure, all are equal. If everyone reaches First, other means are needed to assess performance, especially for employment.

    At one time, fewer students reached university, which then signified achievement. It is better that everyone reaches their full potential, yet if university is the norm, it lacks distinction.

    University should be free to the few best applicants.

    Modern books, graphics, computer-learning, documentaries, video tuition, FE colleges, personal tuition, work experience & apprenticeships provide an increasingly rich source of education accessible to all. The highest attainment need not be an expensive rigid process tied to a distant group of buildings for 3 years.

    1. Iain Moore
      February 20, 2018

      Nothing the state offers is free, its all paid by somebody else. Its really a question who you want to have pay for your free stuff.

      In addition when the state pays for people to have free stuff, its not free stuff for all who qualify, for very rapidly its free stuff that is rationed.

      1. Adam
        February 22, 2018

        Agreed, Iain. Everything involving the setting of a budget is self-rationed.

        Where cost is incurred, someone pays. To some extent, those who are not charged specifically for University tuition, loosely described as receiving it free, still pay part of it themselves. Sensibly taxes are rarely hypothecated, as that restricts flexibility. Many of our citizens are described as non-taxpayers, yet even a small child making a purchase pays VAT.

  38. Denis Cooper
    February 20, 2018

    Off-topic, JR, last night my wife returned from her day in London bearing a copy of the Evening Standard, and the moment I saw the front page article:


    I realised that I have been wrong to trust Theresa May over Brexit.

    In July 2o16 when she became Prime Minister I was prepared to believe that her sense of duty would impel her to conscientiously implement the decision the electorate had made in the referendum, even though her personal preference was that we should remain in the EU and continue with the process of “ever closer union”.

    Since then she has chipped away at my trust, and this last episode has finished it.

    Her closest political ally, Damian Green, is now demanding the release of a confidential report which allegedly she ordered:


    some contents of which have already been leaked, by person or persons unknown, and which have been shown to represent no more than a new edition of the false report put out by the Treasury before the referendum, in April 2016, on the orders of the man who is now editor of the London Evening Standard.

    As mentioned yesterday:


    “Here is an interesting article:


    “Recent Estimates of the Economic Impact of Brexit”

    This is from the last paragraph:

    “The Scottish Government reproduces the flaws in the Treasury’s 2016 report, and calculates a negative economic impact of Brexit which is exaggerated perhaps by as much as four-fold … ”

    “Finally, the leaked DEXEU report represents a new departure in the Brexit debate – a confidential report which predicts negative consequences without any indication of who generated the predictions or what methods were used. Needless to say this is a completely unsatisfactory way to conduct government business.”

    If people want “facts” they will no more find them in this new edition of the Treasury’s doom laden speculative politically-charged exaggerations than they would find them in the original April 2016 edition:


    “So these numbers for predicted GDP losses from leaving the EU and its Single Market are in the same kind of ballpark as the EU Commission’s official estimates of the benefits of the Single Market. But then:

    “In the long run, reduced trade lowers productivity. Factoring in these effects substantially increases the costs of Brexit … ”

    And the predicted loss immediately jumps fourfold from a marginal 1 % or 2% of GDP to a more significant 6.3% or 9.5% of GDP.”

    I’m sure Theresa May knows that just as well as Damian Green knows it.

  39. Prigger
    February 20, 2018

    Some huge companies go Ex-div on Thursday , which as a result may bring the FTSE IOO down over 9 points. Let’s see if Fake News attributes the fall to Brexit which is as we all know also the reason for the scarcity of the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

    1. backofanenvelope
      February 20, 2018

      What about the Great Spotted Woodpecker?

  40. JoolsB
    February 20, 2018

    I am no Labour supporter but Corbyn said he would scrap tuition fees, he did not say he would scrap existing debt as Tory MPs are disingenuously saying. But what if he had? The Government keeps saying it would cost £100 billion to scrap the debt which may be the case if 100% of it was paid back but as only 22% is paid back, doesn’t that mean it would only cost £22 billion which is a drop in the ocean compared to the money this Government wastes and squanders on our behalf.

    The aid budget alone would cover it. Hammond managed to find an extra 4 billion in the budget to bung to the already over funded devolved nations and £1 billion to buy the DUP (this at a time when he is cutting services and university funding to the bone in England) They squander billions on welfare, the banks, themselves, the over bloated public sector. But when it comes to England’s young, (and England’s elderly) forget it.

    This determination by your party John to alienate the young vote and their parents and grandparents is ideologically driven, especially as 78% is never repaid anyway – your party are on a suicide mission for no other reason. As May has admitted, tuition fees in England are the highest in the world after America and the 6.1% on top is doubly punitive and unjustifiable and could be scrapped today if the will was there which it clearly isn’t. All this review is doing is kicking the can down the road. We don’t need another review, we need action now to stop this discrimination against England’s young.

    Finally why did May say the word Britain dozens of times in her speech yesterday and stand behind a sign with Britain on it? This is disingenuous and deliberately misleading John. Does she think we are all stupid? She was talking about tuition fees and debt in England, not Britain so why didn’t she say England? Are politicians all brainwashed into ‘don’t say the word England’ at any cost. Even you have done the same thing with your comments above. May talked of the unfairness of those going to uni being supported by those who don’t but what about the unfairness of English taxes and the taxes of future graduates in England paying an extra 9% plus income tax for most of their working lives to fund free or heavily subsidised tuition elsewhere in the UK?

    With respect John, I would suggest your party doesn’t know the meaning of fairness. As a lifelong Tory voter and sometimes activist, I never thought I would say it but the sooner May and this incompetent anti-English Government are booted out of office, the better!!!

    1. a-tracy
      February 21, 2018

      “he did not say he would scrap existing debt ” he implied he could Jools my kids were led to believe he would deal with getting rid of their huge loans and taking them back to more reasonable levels. There were facebook campaigns telling those 2012 students this and the student unions were very active in convincing them debts would be ‘sorted’ for their generation, don’t forget it was their vote Labour were after and writing off total student tuition fees for those students following them would effectively make them a more expensive hire as they would require a 9% top up over £20,000 to match the same net of following graduates.

  41. graham1946
    February 20, 2018

    Slightly off topic, but not much.

    Last night I caught on telly an advert that seemed to be for recruiting people to train as teachers who are offered something like 26 grand to train. At the same time the government are making nurses pay for their training when there is a shortage of 20,000 and more are leaving the NHS daily due to working conditions and poor pay.

    Where is the sense in that?

    Is there any form of intelligent life in this government?

  42. High road and low ro
    February 20, 2018

    Uniformity or levelling in the UK isn’t necessarily a good thing. Scotland has free tuition fees. Some say that is of benefit. Others point to it not actually helping, as envisaged, working class students but the opposite.
    I have met one Scot living in England with three children who was thinking of moving to Scotland partly because of the free tuition. There is nothing wrong, if that is what it is, providing an advantage for people relocating from a crushed part of the UK to a part with lots of land begging to be peopled.
    Counter-intuitively to some, it is fair indeed to give larger grants to students wishing to study engineering, chemistry, computer science than say law. Fewer lawyers can be a positive as they waste time even when we vote to leave they waste time , our time, our money, the time of our people.

  43. Prigger
    February 20, 2018

    My career path should have been learning a trade like a car mechanic, plumber, electrician, brickie, long-distance lorry driver. My family wished “the best” for me. But I despised the people in academia. They seemed supercilious.
    Personally, I could have saved thousands knowing more about my cars. and also with plumbing skills got my own van and my own little business suiting me down to the ground. Instead I studied English literature and philosophy amongst other subjects which eventually after forty years and much study allowed me to understand how I should have got into cars and plumbing and the social/psychological reasons I failed as a proper person.

  44. Colin
    February 20, 2018

    We did, of course, have a perfectly satisfactory system of higher education from 1962 to 1990, when universities were considered part of the state education system just like state schools, tuition was free and students received means-tested maintenance grants to live on, which were adequate to do so. Under this system – together with grammar schools, at least in the earlier years – hundreds of thousands of young working-class people were enabled to lift themselves out of poverty by their own efforts, and to storm the barricades of the professions. The sons and daughters of coal miners, bus drivers or factory workers became QCs, consultant surgeons, architects, bankers or business executives. People like John Redwood and David Davis, for example.

    Then, for some reason, two morally repugnant ideas took hold. Firstly, that university education was not about making one a more complete human being, but was rather merely an “investment” for the purpose of getting a better-paid job. It followed that if more people made that investment, more would get better-paid jobs, and everyone would be better off. Everyone could be a QC, a surgeon or an architect if they just paid to go to university. The fact that most people are not clever enough to be a QC, a surgeon or an architect, or that there wasn’t actually sufficient demand for everyone to have such a job, was discounted.

    The second morally repugnant idea, which followed from the first, was that since it was merely an “investment”, young people should be expected to pay for their own education; and since they have no money, should be expected to go into debt to do so. Every previous generation in the history of the human race has regarded it as their duty to see to the education of their children, just as it is their duty to feed and clothe them, to give them the best start in life – and hopefully a better start than their parents had. But we now have a generation in charge who have abandoned their responsibilities to their children in favour of feathering their own nests, creating student debt, a housing crisis, mass unskilled immigration to keep wages low and a “gig” economy of uncertainty without hope.

    Much nonsense is spouted about how tuition fees have not put off people from going to university, and there is still a pay differential between those with degrees and without. The reality is that the increase in student numbers – sold to young people on a prospectus of fortunes to be made – has simply devalued the currency of a degree so that it has become a prerequisite for the kinds of jobs that could be had with a couple of O levels 30 or 40 years ago, while not having a degree condemns one to a life of flipping burgers or scrubbing toilets, in downward wage competition with immigrants who sleep in garden sheds. Young people have no choice but to go to university if they want any sort of half-decent job at all.

    Meanwhile, of course, since everyone and his dog now has a bachelor’s degree, rendering them worth no more than school-leaving qualifications, all the good jobs go to those whose parents can afford to support them while they do postgraduate degrees (for which there is no funding) and unpaid internships in order to distinguish themselves from the crowd. Parental wealth is once again the determinant of one’s prospects in life.

    The solution is of course to revalue higher education by stopping sending people who would once have been considered too dim for A levels (or O levels, come to that – my old exam certificates say on the back that a student of average ability should attain CSE Grade 4) to do meaningless degrees in media studies at the “University” of Nether Wallop, and give them proper technical education that will enable them to learn a trade. It would also help if we didn’t think the solution to a skills shortage was to ship in more immigrants rather than train up our own unemployed.

    Higher education could then once again be free to those with the ability truly to benefit from it, and we could get back on track towards the open, meritocratic society we once hoped to become. And if we want to avoid going back to a socialist system of state funding, there are other options: require universities to operate needs-blind admission and let the rich kids and foreigners pay so our own poor can go free.

  45. John S
    February 20, 2018

    To be brutally honest, less than 10% of the population are capable of achieving an honours degree in a traditional subject, at say a Russell Group university. Before this nonsense of aiming to have 50% of school leavers going to university, those relatively few who went, could obtain grants which were affordable by the state. The vast majority went on to do jobs which have increased the standard of living and quality of life for all of us. Now we have students with worthless degrees at third rate universities, and I am sad to say, some worthless degrees at top-rated universities.
    We should instead channel the less academically inclined to undertake vocational training. This would be more useful to society and involve less expense for the students concerned.

  46. Ed Mahony
    February 20, 2018

    Great comment.

    Common sense and your last comment – exciting – where you mention loans to young entrepreneurs. Think how much more this would benefit an individual (and the country’s economy) instead of, for example, the student taking out a £50K loan to do a media studies course (or the government wasting tax payers money on that).

    Let the government focus on the essential degrees (Maths, Medicine, Engineering etc ..) . And i think we should up the funding on Maths and English overall (from school to university). Being able to 1. count 2. think logically 3. comprehend and 4. write are the four essential skills everyone needs.

    Something to add to your comment, we need lots of investment and encouragement to get young kids coding—to create the software platforms of the future. This will help the lucrative software industry (and you can make a lot of money here from little initial investment) but also indirectly help the high tech industry in general as well.

  47. behindthefrogs
    February 20, 2018

    Since only a small percentage of students actually ever pay off their loans, there is little point in tinkering with the actual amounts. Only major changes will have any significant effect. That said there is a psychological effect that might be worthwhile invoking. This means that the course fees for subjects like science or nursing could be reduced to attract students. This is probably the inverse of the actual cost of running the courses.

    However the problems that young people have in buying their own homes etc mean that the starting level of payment and its timing with regard to age and completion of the course can be adjusted with potentially significant effect.

  48. JoolsB
    February 20, 2018

    “The loan scheme which Conservatives originally opposed, fearing it would lead to fewer people attending university and fewer people from poorer backgrounds thinking they could go, has had neither of those consequences”

    Are the politicians being honest on this one? First of all they are quoting UK admissions but it is only England which has £9,250 fees. On England only admissions, everything I have read suggests there are more affluent students and women applying (most of whom thanks to career breaks will never pay their loans back) but not those from poorer backgrounds. More from the UK maybe but not England.

    When the Tory party opposed the introduction of tuition fees in England in 2005, why didn’t they kick up at a fuss at the time that the bill only got through thanks to 59 Scottish Labour MPs who wouldn’t countenance them for their own? Especially as the Tories had won the popular vote in England in the GE a few months previous – why didn’t your party demand what right Scottish MPs had to inflict these fees on England’s young? Of course in doing so it would have mean they had to speak the forbidden word – England.

    Our young would not be in this position now if they had shown any backbone then. The Tory party of Margaret Thatcher’s day has long gone and has been replaced by a bunch of spineless pathetic self serving politicians who put their beloved union before England every time. Shame on them!!

  49. Prigger
    February 20, 2018

    Mrs May and a few Cabinet Ministers appear as if speaking to the academically well-paper-qualified. They speak of “allowing each child to achieve their (sic ) ( his ) own level ” Oh dear oh dear oh dear! Whether intended or not such utterances delight the middle-class liberal lefties who secretly believe they are upper class but slather their jumped-up position pronounced with sugar cube tongs( tongues, for those lacking full, complete real English comprehension).
    The first question an applicant to an Arts Degree should be asked is “Why don’t you wish to become something useful like a blacksmith, joiner, steel erector, gas central heating engineer?” If the answer is “I think a I can make more of myself” or equivalent, then give him half a ton of soft clay and tell him..”Make something better of yourself” If he laughs and says “What I meant as “better” is what other people think is better, for we are all of the same clay.” Then hand him an Arts Degree without taking the course nor completing an examination.For he already knows all there is to know of Art. He is a true Briton.

  50. The Prangwizard
    February 20, 2018

    I understand the review is planned to take twelve months. Then there will probably be another twelve months to consider the findings. After that another twelve months to reconsider after new information comes to light and then…..now where was I?

    Just what Dithering Doris loves.

  51. Peter Parsons
    February 20, 2018

    It was the Conservatives who first introduced loans for students in the Education (Student Loans) Act 1990. I was an undergraduate at the time and I remember the promises made about what this would mean for the maintenance grant system, all of which were reneged upon within about the time it takes for a standard undergraduate degree at an English university.

    Labour introduced tuition fees after promising not to, and set the scene for the current situation.

    The Lib Dems’ 2010 position on tuition fees has been well documented and publicised.

    Most recently the Conservatives changed the repayment terms retrospectively for students who had already not just started university, but had already graduated., a decision which has been subsequently reversed but should never have been taken in the first place.

    What this shows is that history teaches us that no party of government can be trusted on anything they promise in relation to HE and university funding because they’ve all gone back on their word.

    I worked in the university sector for a number of years and I remember reading a report at the time which had calculated that spending on HE and universities delivered a higher ROI back to the Treasury than any other form of government spending.

    Working taxpayers at the time funded my education, and their return on that investment is now the additional contributions I make to the Treasury which helps fund their pensions and health and social care. I see it as part of the social contract, and I would rather that money is spent on HE to allow the next generation to do the same (so that someone will be willing to contribute towards my pension and care costs in a few decades time) rather than wasted on things like Trident.

    The idea that the only person to benefit from a graduate’s education is the graduate themselves is a false one. Graduates, as they earn more on average, contribute more tax to fund public services, and with the additional after tax income, spend more on goods and services, creating jobs and additional economic activity (and more taxes) to the benefit of all.

  52. Local Lad
    February 20, 2018

    STEM degrees? WASPI? HE?

  53. David Ashton
    February 20, 2018

    As the employer of a graduate gets as much, if not more, benefit from that person’s degree, they should also contribute directly to its cost. I graduated in 1969, a lucky one who didn’t just get his fees paid for, but received £330/year living expenses.

    My first job was leading a team made up of two laboratory technicians and two laboratory assistants. The former had Higher National Certificates in Chemistry, and the latter were studying on day release for the same. The cost of their tertiary education was borne by the company, although I’m sure they got some tax reliefs.

    I worked for that company, although it changed ownership, for 40 years before retiring. A similar team then to the one I first led consisted of a graduate from a quality university, from the graduate recruitment programme, three graduates from lesser universities and a university student on a year’s industrial placement. All were educated with no direct cost to the company.

    I would replace the current loan system with a graduate tax system, but with the employer paying an equivalent amount to their graduate employees.

  54. Denis Cooper
    February 20, 2018

    Terrible news from the Sky Campaign Against Brexit: thanks to the indecision of the UK government the Dutch government must activate its “hard Brexit” contingency plan with the redeployment of 0.01% of the workforce [1] to act as new customs officers.


    “Cabinet finance minister Menno Snel wrote that 930 would be required in the event of a “no deal” Brexit, which is “conceivable” after “difficult” first-phase negotiations.”


    “Perhaps as shocking is that 750 extra customs agents would be required even in the event of a Canada-style free trade deal with a transition period.”

    Well, that’s not surprising, because that kind of trade deal would not keep the UK in either the EU Single Market or the EU Customs Union; so by itself it would not remove the need for border checks to be reinstated, not at Rotterdam and nor at the land border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

    Presumably the Irish Republic would have to redeploy a similar massive fraction of its workforce, 0.01%, to check the goods worth 0.1% of UK output which cross that border; except that the Irish government has invoked the fragility of the peace, aka the implied threat of renewed terrorism, as a conclusive reason why there can never be anything which would even imply the existence of a border.

    These are all very fraught and intractable problems leading a LibDem MP to suggest that it would be easier if we just stayed in the EU.

    Meanwhile, instead of countering this pro-EU anti-Brexit propaganda David Davis is in Vienna stabbing us in the back. On at least one occasion in the past the EU Commission itself has expressed concern that the EU is over-regulated, maybe at a possible cost of over 5% of the collective GDP:


    but David Davis wants us to become even more over-regulated after we have left the EU, so we will lead the race to the regulatory top at even greater expense.

    And this enhanced regulation which would be even more burdensome and expensive than the EU’s regulation would still apply to every business in the UK, not just the 6% which export to the EU, and to 100% of the UK economy, not just the 0.1% of UK output which is exported from Northern Ireland across the border to the Irish Republic.

    [1] 930 divided by approximately 7.6 million workers in the Netherlands:


  55. agricola
    February 20, 2018

    As the government is probably the second greatest beneficiary of higher education in terms of tax take over a lifetime of endeavour by the individual, it should be free, and maintenance grants should be available to those who need it. To ensure that there is no financial obstacle to higher education we should reintroduce the Direct Grant Scheme and multiply the available Grammar Schools throughout the land.

    If you question how can we afford it then I would point out that we are currently handing out around £12 Billion per annum in Overseas Aid, and around the same amount to the EU each year. We can decide what the NHS needs when it has been reformed top to bottom. Were we not so intent on spending money on ,to say the least, spurious schemes and political glory projects like HS2 at £50-100 Billion, Nuclear Power Stations at £50 Billion plus and Windmills of doubtful value when we are sitting on coal and frackable gas, there would be no problem in funding education.

  56. Helen Smith
    February 20, 2018

    Whilst keeping general higher education free at the point of use, the theory behind the present loaned scheme, I would like to see medical staff pay up front with a new interest free loan.

    On completion of successful studies and employment in the NHS the government would refundpart of the fee each year provided said person stayed in the NHS.

    This way doctors and nurses could have free training but ONLY if they repay the tax payer by staying in the NHS. They would of course be free to leave but then they would no longer get money back.

  57. Mark
    February 20, 2018

    It is quite evident that university places need to be culled so that the amount of debt/cost of provision that has to be written off is reduced to under 10%. That will free up resources that can be used to provide training for those who do not go to university – which would include both those currently excluded, and the weaker undergraduates of today who have no hope of ever justifying the investment in a degree.

    We also need to return to rigour across the entire education spectrum, which would mean that schools would once again stretch their pupils to the level of their ability, leaving less need for university education that now offers remedial education for things that schools used to teach. More rigour and faster paced learning for those able to keep up means much greater productivity across education, which makes better education affordable, and reduces the bill for taxpayers. It also allows young people to start earning earlier, instead of racking up a burden on society for the future.

    Simple business practices, in short: cut out loss making activity, and improve productivity. Then we will have a system that pays for itself in higher incomes that will allow us more freedom to spend on things we want, such as health care.

  58. Lawrence John
    February 20, 2018

    Dear John, The UK used to have free university education for ‘higher achievers’, which is the right solution. Then the government of the time changed every polytechnic into a ‘university’, and tried to get every child into further education. Standards fell, useless degrees abounded and now you have kids taking three years of partying and ending up with a ‘debt’ of £60k, almost none of which will ever be repaid. I do feel that the present and previous governments went along with this ridiculous situation because the broken system is removing hundreds of thousands of young adults from the ‘unemployment’ statistic.
    The system is totally broken and no political party has the will to change it.

  59. Lawrence John
    February 20, 2018

    By the way, John, I am sure it will not have escaped your attention that 10 days after The Sun newspaper (raised issues about ed) the leader of the opposition (dealings with communist states ed), the BBC has singularly failed to list the situation on their ‘News’ broadcasts, I thought their position would become untenable when the PM was asked about the situation only yesterday, but they have held firm and there is still no mention on the Website. This self-imposed censorship of the news does expose the BBC as a one-sided agent of the extreme left-wing, and I fail to see any reason why the British taxpayer should have to pay for this service for even one day more. I do hope that this issue will very soon be raised in Parliament.

  60. David L
    February 20, 2018

    I have visited many University Open Days with each of my three offspring. At one I had a look at a subject that interested me out of curiosity. The Lecturer invited me to apply, saying “Being an older student (late 60’s) you’ll never have to repay your loan so it’ll cost you nothing!” I didn’t take up the offer but, as taxpayers, I wonder how many very mature students are we picking up the tab for?

    1. JoolsB
      February 21, 2018

      Lots. There are many mature students out there with absolutely no intention of being employed ever again let alone paying back what it costs. But the grey vote can do no wrong with this Government because they tend to vote Tory. Much easier to pick on England’s young instead who don’t.

  61. Dennis Zoff
    February 20, 2018


    So many practical solutions for Higher Education coming from individuals on this blog. Why can we see these issues so clearly and provide sensible solutions, while your Government, with its subject matter experts, can’t?

    The mind boggles with this staggering ineptitude!

  62. Bert Young
    February 20, 2018

    Someone I know – from Slovakia , married an Englishman . While married to him she decided to do a degree ; her costs were covered by a loan scheme . Two years after she qualified – during which time she repaid a small proportion of the loan , she divorced . She later re-married – this time to a Slovakian , and returned to this country . She has not made any further repayments of her loan since . She is now the mother of a 3 year old child .

    I am sure this sort of loose control is repeated all the time and the likelihood of ever having her loan repaid is virtually nil . For once I do not agree with John . The system of loan allocation has to reviewed and all loose ends eradicated .

  63. a-tracy
    February 20, 2018

    The £9000 touted (instead of scheme 1’s £3465 pa) was actually more like £9549 compounding whilst you’re not earning. (£14,250 pa inc maintenance loan).
    2011 grad tuition fees £10,395 for a 3-year degree in total.
    Do EU students employers send us their graduate tax of 9%? Are British taxpayers subsiding loans to EU students too?

    1. JoolsB
      February 21, 2018

      The English taxpayer is subsidising loans to just about everyone – everyone except the English that is!

  64. a-tracy
    February 20, 2018

    “It also has the weakness that a high flier who can attract a well paid job may decide to leave the country and walk away from the debt. “…or, possibly one of many JR blog posters preferred STEM graduates end up paying lots more tax to subsidise those doing degrees that got them a job paying only slightly more than the NMW!

    The fact that English Conservatives that we elected chose to triple fees to their own electorate then slam them with 6.1% interest from day one of their training whilst not earning, whilst letting other nations not apply the charges with no extra taxes for their parents or other workers stinks.

    1. JoolsB
      February 21, 2018

      Says everything we need to know about this anti-English Conservative Government. Even when May did her speech about fees the other day, she said Britain dozens of time and and stood behind a sign saying ‘A future fit for Britain’ despite £9,250 fees only applying to English kids. They can’t even say the word England let alone stand up for us against this blatant discrimination.
      Why do we English bother voting Tory when this is how they thank us?

  65. a-tracy
    February 20, 2018

    JR”The government could put more money in to subsidise expensive and worthwhile courses”

    So John, are History, Geography and Philosophy degrees worthwhile?

    Reply Yes, but less expensive!

  66. Anonymous
    February 20, 2018

    University expansion was all about furthering leftism.

    More lefty academics indocrinating more impressionable young minds.

    90% of academics support Remain but at least 50% of those should not be academics and would not have made the grade as academics twenty years ago.

    1. Anonymous
      February 21, 2018

      Reduction in university courses will have a huge impact on the student letting business, of course. Remaining students may pay higher tuition but their rents should come down.

  67. a-tracy
    February 20, 2018

    Wouldn’t it be useful for potential students and their parents to see what % of students who were on each course in each institution are in careers after 12 months earning sufficient per month to start paying their student loan? This could be picked up from the student loan company and not involve the Universities.

    Also, harder to discover but what % of those careers were degree related?

  68. Pragmatist
    February 20, 2018

    A debate on BBC Parliament today “Safeguarding in the Aid Sector” emphasised often from the lips of the same speaker
    1/ # “We do not know as yet the full scope of the problem”#
    1a/ #”The overwhelming work of charities is excellent” #

    Parliament should make up its mind whether it wishes to behave like a Parliament or a disgusting large Charity…
    We state ” We do not know the scope of the problem; therefore, we cannot say the overwhelming work of charities is excellent. As we are not insane. As we do not attempt to cover up.

  69. Ed Mahony
    February 20, 2018

    Another thing concerning me at moment is how some/many foreign investors perceive Brexit to be a ‘disaster’ (/and or damaging). Doesn’t matter if they’re right or not, it’s going to influence investors at all levels. For example, (again doesn’t matter if you agree or not – it’s the perception that counts and the affect of this on investor confidence):

    ‘Almost two years after the U.K. voted to quit the European Union … Britain is fumbling its way to disaster’ – Bloomberg, New York, 20 Feb.


    ‘If Britain leaves the EU in March 2019 without even any transitional arrangements, its trade in goods and services — not just with the EU but with much of the rest of the world — will collapse into chaos,’ – Bloomberg, New York, 20 Feb.

  70. John
    February 20, 2018

    There is one thing I’ve noticed in this recent debate which is a positive sign.

    When this was discussed in previous years, the idea that those benefitting from higher wages should take the brunt of University costs was lambasted especially by the ‘middle classes’.
    The poor and non Uni educated should pay for Middle class kids to go to Uni and by the way we should not spend any money on apprenticeships as we can get cheap migrant labour from Eastern Europe!

    That attitude has changed, I saw the BBC a few times explain the argument that graduates will earn more and therefore should pay more towards their professional education.

    An extraordinary progression of thought by the BBC and others even on the Left. I see it as positive as a few years from now I wonder if these same people may think that controlling your
    Are just sensible things to do in a democracy.

    I look forward to that enlightenment to come.

  71. Ian Dennis
    February 20, 2018

    Why can’t we have the Scottish system?
    The one where students pay zero?

    How is it even possible that the citizens of the same country are treated so differently?

    1. JoolsB
      February 21, 2018

      That is the biggest slap in the face especially as England is the only net contributor to the Treasury. I’d even settle for the rates Wales or NI pay which is only a third of what our kids pay. Welsh students even pay a third of what English kids do even when studying at English universities alongside £9,250 fee paying English students.

  72. Iain Gill
    February 20, 2018

    Well stop giving subsidized tuition and accommodation to students from other EU nations, including Scottish students in England (since Scotland treats English students so badly).

    I myself would find enough money to return to free tuition and student grants, and I would do this in popular ways like stopping foreign “aid” taxing foreigners working in the country at least as much as locals and not significantly less.

  73. Tabulazero
    February 21, 2018

    No mention of your ransom letter, Mr Redwood ? How strange.

    1. Denis Cooper
      February 21, 2018

      Do you mean the letter from Tory MPs saying that they still support what Theresa May said in her Lancaster House speech last January even if she doesn’t?

      1. Iain Gill
        February 21, 2018

        more importantly a letter which lists priorities but fails to mention the immigration reduction so desperately wanted by far and away the vast majority of the population and voters?

  74. Hans Christian ivers
    February 21, 2018

    The latest proposal from Rees-mogg to the government on an Eu deal is unworkable.

    It would mean a hard border with Ireland, danger to the peace agreement and a non-workable regulatory framework with the EU.

    A WTO agreement during a transition period would mean an end to our current supply chains and losses of thousands of jobs.

    1. Denis Cooper
      February 21, 2018

      So now you are threatening us with renewed terrorism.

  75. Frances Truscott
    February 21, 2018

    The debt is terrifying. The interest rate is usury. It doubles the debt quickly in a way which would not be permitted in any other situation. It puts our children at a disadvantage compared to the young of any other country.

  76. Raymond
    February 21, 2018

    I have a child at university and one that was there but is now working. I am gutted that they are paying 6% plus on their borrowing. I would prefer that less was spent on some other matters (such as legal aid for the enemies of the state) and the interest rate was eliminated or reduced to a negative rate in real terms.

Comments are closed.