New York Times gives editorial attention to English tuition fees
An editorial in Friday’s New York Times took a closer look at the new framework of funding and tuition fees in England. While the writer condemned the violence that has taken place on the margins of student protests, the key point of the editorial was that the new framework is ‘bad public policy, both myopic and unfair’. The key reasons given for this judgement were that the new policy has stripped out too much public funding in what the paper calls ‘arbitrary spending cuts’, and that some (particularly the less well off) will find the prospect of relatively high debts on graduation too daunting and may drift away from higher education.
Interestingly, the need for a contribution by students to the cost of their teaching is no longer a major controversial issue in England, though the amount of such a contribution is; but for most the acceptance of a contribution is still predicated on the assumption that the state will pay a significant proportion. The Browne proposals, as amended and adopted this past week by the British parliament, envisage a very significant withdrawal by the state from this role of funder.
Perhaps most dangerous of all for Britain is the conclusion suggested by the New York Times:
‘Britain’s crisis-swollen budget deficits, like America’s, need to be brought down as the economy recovers. The cutting must be done wisely, protecting investments in the economic future, like education. The sacrifices must be equitably shared. By any of those terms, this new policy is an utter failure.’
The British government will need to work very hard to ensure that its new policy is not seen internationally largely as a plan to disinvest in higher education. Economic growth and new investment may depend on it.