One big test for any reform to higher education funding is whether students should be allowed to pay fees upfront. It exposes the political divide over how progressive the system should be. Here are the pros and cons:
Reasons for a ban: Allowing students to pay fees upfront is a rich kids charter. Those from wealthy families will be able to sidestep the burden of repayments placed on those from poor or middle income households. It will give the lucky a leg-up while giving the middle classes a sack of debt to carry. It will give a free pass to those without credit constraints while placing a tax on those who do. For all these reasons, it does not pass the political fairness test. Those who pay upfront will pay less in total than those who are forced to repay over 30 years. A duke will pay less than his university contemporary who turns to teaching in a primary school. Read more
A dispatch from Chris Cook, our education correspondent:
Most of the responses to Browne have been very equivocal (a large share of UK universities, even ones who are pleased with the recommendations, have issued statements to say “we would like more money, but we do worry about poor children”). Read more
Interesting piece of research by YouGov this morning that shows that only 33 per cent of the population have heard of AV and have a broad understanding of how it works.
No doubt both sides of the argument will take this as evidence that the public can still be convinced either way. But I suspect that this high level of apathy does not augur well for the “yes” campaign. Read more