I’m OK with charging graduates more

It seems to me that the dichotomy of being against cuts or for cuts is falling apart as the breadth of the changes the Government are making increases – and actually, for one thing, I’m OK with cutting free money for students.

I’m always pretty fast at coming to an opinion over things, and usually equally as quick at changing my mind but I’ve stuck with this one since the budget, and for once I’m actually informed on the issue as well.

You see I was the first person in my family to go to university, I didn’t come from a well-off background, I received a maintenance grant and a full student loan and I now earn more than average, and pay back some of my student loans each month, as a result of the fact I continued my education.

Frankly, I can’t see what’s wrong with the fact that there was a system in place that allowed me to do some more, very expensive education and then only pay for it when I was seeing the benefit in my pocket.

And I think that’s the problem: what everyone seems to forget is that student loans aren’t like other loans. They aren’t really strung ‘around your neck’, as much as that’s a convenient phrase to use in television interviews and in articles.

I was the first person in my family to go to university, I didn’t come from a well-off background,

Student loans are incredibly cheap debt, they don’t appear on your credit record so they don’t affect your ability §to get other loans, you only pay them back when you’re benefiting from the education you bought and they get written off when you hit 60 whether you’ve paid a penny or not.

That’s not to say that I think the system is faultless either: earning just above the threshold and never progressing means you’ll end up paying back more than someone who earns more and that probably needs fixing somehow and the total amount of funding available each year is laughable, but on the whole the student loan system seems pretty fair.

My argument rests on the assumption that higher education isn’t going to be free.

For what it’s worth, I think charging those people benefiting from the extra education is a far fairer way of paying for it than general taxation.

So far, actually, the main arguments I’ve seen against the changes are that they put poorer people at a disadvantage, saddle young people with too much debt and that tuition fees are wrong anyway and just another example of how the Tories don’t like the young.

None of those things are true without caveats, and I guess if I’m truthful this is where I struggle with so many of the campaigns against cutting (or changing) things that the Government does.

In trying to create a message that’s simple enough for their campaign to catch the wind, complicated facts get simplified or left out and like a bad comedy programme stereotypes are used instead to fill the gaps.

If the evil Mr Osborne has decided to make the change, then of course it must be bad – and of course, it’ll only be half the story too with further evil leaps of faith ‘as standard’.

I’m happy to be enlighted, but I don’t see how someone from a less-well-off background is going to be any less able to afford to go to University as a result of the change from a maintenance grant to more maintenance loan. The amount of money on offer will still be the same, and paying it back will only start when earnings increase as a result.

I’m happy to see the stats in three years and admit I was wrong, but the figures for the number of people applying to go to University don’t seem to be showing that it’s a less attractive offer than it was.

And I’ll happily eat a very small hat if I’m wrong, but I’m still not convinced we need more people to go to University anyway: don’t we have a graduate unemployment problem?

Not all cuts can be bad, you know.

It seems to me that the dichotomy of being against cuts or for cuts is falling apart as the breadth of the changes the Government are making increases – and actually, for one thing, I’m OK with cutting free money for students.

I’m always pretty fast at coming to an opinion over things, and usually equally as quick at changing my mind but I’ve stuck with this one since the budget, and for once I’m actually informed on the issue as well.

You see I was the first person in my family to go to university, I didn’t come from a well-off background, I received a maintenance grant and a full student loan and I now earn more than average, and pay back some of my student loans each month, as a result of the fact I continued my education.

Frankly, I can’t see what’s wrong with the fact that there was a system in place that allowed me to do some more, very expensive education and then only pay for it when I was seeing the benefit in my pocket.

And I think that’s the problem: what everyone seems to forget is that student loans aren’t like other loans. They aren’t really strung ‘around your neck’, as much as that’s a convenient phrase to use in television interviews and in articles.

I was the first person in my family to go to university, I didn’t come from a well-off background,

Student loans are incredibly cheap debt, they don’t appear on your credit record so they don’t affect your ability §to get other loans, you only pay them back when you’re benefiting from the education you bought and they get written off when you hit 60 whether you’ve paid a penny or not.

That’s not to say that I think the system is faultless either: earning just above the threshold and never progressing means you’ll end up paying back more than someone who earns more and that probably needs fixing somehow and the total amount of funding available each year is laughable, but on the whole the student loan system seems pretty fair.

My argument rests on the assumption that higher education isn’t going to be free.

For what it’s worth, I think charging those people benefiting from the extra education is a far fairer way of paying for it than general taxation.

So far, actually, the main arguments I’ve seen against the changes are that they put poorer people at a disadvantage, saddle young people with too much debt and that tuition fees are wrong anyway and just another example of how the Tories don’t like the young.

None of those things are true without caveats, and I guess if I’m truthful this is where I struggle with so many of the campaigns against cutting (or changing) things that the Government does.

In trying to create a message that’s simple enough for their campaign to catch the wind, complicated facts get simplified or left out and like a bad comedy programme stereotypes are used instead to fill the gaps.

If the evil Mr Osborne has decided to make the change, then of course it must be bad – and of course, it’ll only be half the story too with further evil leaps of faith ‘as standard’.

I’m happy to be enlighted, but I don’t see how someone from a less-well-off background is going to be any less able to afford to go to University as a result of the change from a maintenance grant to more maintenance loan. The amount of money on offer will still be the same, and paying it back will only start when earnings increase as a result.

I’m happy to see the stats in three years and admit I was wrong, but the figures for the number of people applying to go to University don’t seem to be showing that it’s a less attractive offer than it was.

And I’ll happily eat a very small hat if I’m wrong, but I’m still not convinced we need more people to go to University anyway: don’t we have a graduate unemployment problem?

Not all cuts can be bad, you know.

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