Counting the Cost of Education

I will have mentioned before that Ms P is in her second year at university where she is working hard and taking her work seriously, but it has brought home to me just how much we and she has to pay so that the government can reach its target of having 50% of school leavers going on to higher education.

To start with there are the student loans. The argument goes that university educated people earn more in later life and so should put something back into the coffers. Apart from the fact that these higher earners will be putting something back by paying more taxes, it misses the point of what happens when, and if, they hit the 50% target. Will there be more high paying jobs? I don’t think so.

With more and more graduates competing for the same jobs so the effect will be to raise the bar on qualifications. We already see relatively lowly jobs where a degree is ‘essential’ and post-grad for anything that pays anything like a decent wage. Sure the workforce will be better in terms of education, if not ability, but generally the higher pay for graduates is flawed logic.

The second argument is that students are adults and can take on the adult responsibilities of a loan. I could go along with that notion except that when it comes to state support is concerned they are suddenly children again and their parents’ income becomes the determining factor in how much they might receive.

We have been contributing to Ms P’s upkeep and to give her her due, she has also taken part-time work during term-time and holidays to help support herself which usually involves giving up large chunks of her weekends.

Okay, so there is the occasional benefit from being a student, like Railcards and store discounts, but those are commercial decisions aimed securing their future custom rather than a beneficent state handout. The state doesn’t do handouts it seems as we discovered when Ms P had a trip to the dentist last week.

She picked a form that you use to claim support for the cost of dental work if you are in full-time education and guess what? Her income, in terms of parental financial support and part-time earnings, is taken into account when deciding whether she is eligible or not.

But the absolute FFS epithet moment came when we spotted that the government also considers the student as income. Since when has a loan counted as income? Does the taxman ever up your contributions because you happen to have run up a £10,000 Barclaycard bill? Does a mortgage counts as part of your salary? Do the car repayments mean you have more money in your pocket? No, they bloody well don’t!

And yet with students they get you every which way. Where I’m going wrong is in not being an MP employing my kids to do no work so that the state can subsidise their education with nobody being any the wiser. Until now.

I counted 11 secretaries and research assistants sharing the same surname as the MP and that was just on the very long A-C list. Money-grabbing, self-serving bastards.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

2 comments… Add yours
  • Mosher 30th January 2008

    And you’re surprised that MPs have found all the loopholes in a system they created? The student loan system is a joke, frankly. I still have three to pay off and have never earned enough to be in the “you must start paying these back” bracket in the 10 years or so since I left uni.

    So the interest continues to accumulate while I’m (currently) earning around £400 per month.

    I notice they also assume that everyone who goes to uni and takes the loans on board will *graduate* let alone get a well-paid job at the end of it.

    Move to Scotland – residents, I believe – get free uni education if they study within the country.

  • Steve 1st February 2008

    Yep, Scotland’s the answer.

    Well ranted. I agree with everything you said.


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