Home > Uncategorized > A New Contribution to the Tuition Fee Debate

A New Contribution to the Tuition Fee Debate


Over the last several months there has been a huge debate over tuition fees & how we properly fund higher education.

There has also been a smaller side debate about how we get more young people into Further Education courses &  into apprenticeships.

I was at a fringe event at the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference organised by the Social Liberal forum that was discussing post-18 education with Vince Cable & Dr Evan Harris. A lady put to Vince that in most European countries there is a better dialog between education institutions & business, she asked how could the UK get a better dialog going on between employers & the education community.

Vince’s answer was the usual thing that I’ve heard over & over that we’ve got to get more people into FE & apprenticeships. I don’t think this really addresses the problem or achieve anything. Why? Because government isn’t great at advising how & where people should be educated or telling us what employers are looking for in potential employees.

Now my mum trained as a nurse for years, she has almost every qualification going to be a nurse & a midwife, years of experience in the field except a degree. She took about 10 or so years out to have my siblings & me and when she tried to get back into work when we were all at school she found it nearly impossible. Why? Because the employers wanted someone with a degree.

We need to get away from this idea that having a degree is the be all and end all of education. There are other perfectly viable ways of gaining an education. I think I have a solution. I think it deals with all the problems mentioned above.

The solution is to get business directly involved in shaping & funding higher & further education.

How much they help depends on how much influence we want them to have & also how much of the burden we want to fall on the taxpayer & the student. You could have business, taxpayer and student all pay a third or you could have business & taxpayer pay a half if we want to remove the student from the equation.

Why do I think this is a good idea?

First it gets rid of degrees that would be better suited to further education or apprenticeships. No business is going to help fund a course that doesn’t actually need to be a degree because degrees are too expensive. It forces employers into thinking about FE courses & apprenticeships which are both cheaper.

Secondly, it makes sure graduates are equipped with the skills that employers want because the employers have had a direct hand in influencing what was taught.

This for me is a definite alternative to tuition fees & a graduate tax. This I feel should definitely be looked at in closer detail.

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