UK University fees and funding

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UK University fees and funding

Postby Angua » Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:59 am UTC

I realise that there was another thread on the student fees protests - I thought this thread would be more about the new measures the government is wanting to bring in, now that they are realising that universities are wanting to pay the maximum, however if the mods feel the need to merge the threads, the other one is http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=66760

So, this week Cambridge announced that it would be charging the maximum £9000, while Oxford had a debate that said that at least £8000 would need to be charged to offset all the recent budget cuts. Other universities haven't announced what they are charging yet, but it seems to be thought that they will follow suit, for a variety of reasons, one main one being the fact that there is the idea that lower fee unis will be seen as substandard.

Clegg has said that universities will not be allowed to charge this much, unless they can improve the access for students from poorer backgrounds, though some universities seem to think that these targets and quotas are unfair (though some universities see them as empty threats - as seen in the article linked above about them still charging higher fees), especially as their budget was cut as it was said that they could recoup the losses by charging higher fees.

Anyway, I don't really have a clear understanding of everything going on, so feel free to correct me if I've misunderstood stuff. Also, all of my sources are from the bbc - I realise I should read other things as well, but don't really have to time to go through other news websites, though I do read newspaper articles when I come across them.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Gellert1984 » Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:48 pm UTC

two things, first and for those of you who dont know, the people currently making the decisions had free education up until university level (tony blair changed that)

second, there shouldnt be targets for 'poorer backgrounds' you've either got the grades to get into a good uni or you don't, hell there shouldn't even be 'good' uni's just more prestigious uni's. We're meant to have a uniform system of education after all.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Angua » Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:52 pm UTC

Gellert1984 wrote:
second, there shouldnt be targets for 'poorer backgrounds' you've either got the grades to get into a good uni or you don't, hell there shouldn't even be 'good' uni's just more prestigious uni's. We're meant to have a uniform system of education after all.
I think the government should be putting more into making sure that people from poorer backgrounds get better grades to start out with (better schools, ema, etc) rather than trying to get universities to compensate for their already lack of education. I think that while that happens, there should be guidance for universities to take background into account when looking at grades, but it shouldn't be put on the universities to correct all problems of social inequality in the education system.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Yakk » Sat Feb 12, 2011 3:26 pm UTC

It is ridiculously easier to make better universities worse than it is to make worse universities better.

So when you say "we shouldn't have good universities", you are either saying "we should solve an intractable problem that nobody knows how to solve" or "we should make the better universities worse, because that is more fair".

Second, the price of education was low, while the cost of education wasn't, prior to these changes. The only university education that is anywhere near "free" in cost is web-only self-education (say, MIT open courseware), which has a very low marginal cost for a new student to learn from it (even there, the fixed costs are huge -- namely, MIT).

The prestige problem is difficult, as is the "your future prices are set by your current decisions" problem. (Quite often, regulated prices are sometimes "let to float". What often happens afterwards, in my experience, is that changes are then percentage-based on your "float" decision at that time. This generates a perverse incentive to take all you can get now, even if you don't need it, in fear that you'll need it later.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby bigglesworth » Sat Feb 12, 2011 4:57 pm UTC

The most ridiculous idea I heard all the way through this debate was the "University pays first year for poor students" thing. It's just a reason for universities to try and avoid letting poor students into their university, and heaven knows we need less of that thinking.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Game_boy » Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:51 pm UTC

Angua wrote:
Gellert1984 wrote:
second, there shouldnt be targets for 'poorer backgrounds' you've either got the grades to get into a good uni or you don't, hell there shouldn't even be 'good' uni's just more prestigious uni's. We're meant to have a uniform system of education after all.
I think the government should be putting more into making sure that people from poorer backgrounds get better grades to start out with (better schools, ema, etc) rather than trying to get universities to compensate for their already lack of education. I think that while that happens, there should be guidance for universities to take background into account when looking at grades, but it shouldn't be put on the universities to correct all problems of social inequality in the education system.


Places like Cambridge already do this. They have a special process for you to explain why your grades aren't as good, and the interview shows your potential.

I think the current system is the fairest in the world, even more than the US. In my experience if you get AAA in traditional subjects you instantly get offers from all but the top two or three universities (for those you need an A* grade and/or an interview). Not even extra-curriculars like US unis seem to want.

If poor students don't get the grades and can't justify why they didn't, they shouldn't get places. Cambridge and Oxford's barrier to entry is clear and non-discriminatory, and their application process is comprehensively documented on their websites. Just not politically acceptable apparently.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby aleflamedyud » Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:06 pm UTC

So basically, the expected has happened: the cost of going to university has been moved off the rich and the business classes of the UK and onto students.

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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby torgos » Sat Feb 12, 2011 9:20 pm UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:So basically, the unexpected has happened: the bulk of the cost of going to university has been moved off the rich and the business classes of the UK and onto the people receiving the bulk of the benefits.

Student is overly-dramatic, movie at 11.


Fixed. I used 'movie' because 'film' implies a certain level of quality.

This sort of rhetoric baffles me; while I believe some amount of reallocation from the rich to the rest of society is socially optimal, I don't understand how anyone could be furious that the person who is the primary beneficiary of something would also be the primary source of payment for that something. You, the degree holder, are almost certainly the primary beneficiary of that degree. You get the higher salary, you get the more rewarding job opportunities, and whatever enjoyment you derived from your classes. Of course, that's not always true-The bulk of the benefits from Edward Jenner's education(Smallpox vaccine) were accrued to everyone who would have otherwise died, or had a loved one die, from smallpox.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Angua » Sat Feb 12, 2011 9:41 pm UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:So basically, the expected has happened: the cost of going to university has been moved off the rich and the business classes of the UK and onto students.

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No - what has happened (or seems to me) is that the branch of the government proposing these increased fees to £6000 with maximum of £9000 said that no university would charge that much, while the branch of government doing the budget massively reduced funding for universities with the expectation that they would recoup the loses with higher fees. Expectedly, universities decided to charge as much as they could to make up for this, and the government is trying to stop them from doing so. Universities then get upset by this, and students as well, because now the overall funding to their degrees will be less, despite them spending more to go.

Also, let's not forget that part of the reason the students got so upset was that Clegg and the lib dems in part got into the power (and a lot of the student vote) by pledging that they would stand against fee rises, so it's not surprising that if your representatives go against what they're supposed to be doing, people will start to complain.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Bakemaster » Sat Feb 12, 2011 10:00 pm UTC

torgos wrote:while I believe some amount of reallocation from the rich to the rest of society is socially optimal, I don't understand how anyone could be furious that the person who is the primary beneficiary of something would also be the primary source of payment for that something.

It helps when "that something" happens to be a base standard of opportunity that the rest of society, never having suffered its absence, takes completely for granted.

For my part, I don't understand how anyone on a scientifically-minded forum such as this can seriously argue that a group should be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, no matter how great the potential reward.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby nowfocus » Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:09 pm UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:So basically, the expected has happened: the cost of going to university has been moved off the rich and the business classes of the UK and onto students.

Neo-feudalism reinforced, film at 11.


Not exactly. From what I understand, the poor have their university funded with government sponsored loans which they don't have to pay back unless they become successful. A poor person who doesn't earn above the median salary wouldn't have to pay back a dime.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby bigglesworth » Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:11 pm UTC

The only problem is that anything named as a loan will put off poor students; it's a psychological thing that is well-known.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby nowfocus » Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:23 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:The only problem is that anything named as a loan will put off poor students; it's a psychological thing that is well-known.

Taxes also put people off. People don't like paying for things.

I *think* one of the big drivers of this policy change is EU rules - low tuition would have to apply to everyone in the EU, and the government only wants to fund English nationals. What are the options then? You can't charge a different tuition to foreign students because of the EU. You can't tax people after their degrees because it will lead to brain drain from people who don't want to pay that tax. What is the best option?

Of those options, I think the government picked the best one. I don't have sympathy for those that feel they can't afford university but don't bother to take a cursory glance at the funding available.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby bigglesworth » Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:00 am UTC

I don't think taxes are a very good analogy to my point, but I won't sweat it right now.

I think you're right about the EU rules being the main reason for this. However, I don't believe that 'brain drain' is a major effect on migration. There's appreciable brain drain from developing countries to the UK, sure. But there are good reasons for this, the huge difference in quality of life. I don't think that there is anywhere near the same desire of graduates to flee abroad to avoid taxes. If they wanted to do that, they could do it anyway, now, since there are plenty of places with lower taxes than the UK.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Game_boy » Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:08 am UTC

@nowfocus

I agree with the reason, however they could just say no to the EU. They will do so on giving prisoners the right to vote, for example. And other EU countries ignore EU rules all the time, for example France on immigration and protectionism. It's not like they'd get thrown out.

The reason the government should contribute towards higher education is the same reason they pay for general education: it improves the quality of the workforce and makes returns greater than the outlay. It is in the national interest to have the best of that generation given the skills a degree offers.

I feel they could have cut some of the lower-ranked universities and reduced places before raising fees. People who went to my local university, Lincoln, with 2 Ds and an E at A-level in soft subjects doing BSc Animal Welfare or Herbal Medicine, never used that degree to get a job they couldn't get with A-levels. They had two lectures a week and partied in town all day. Most of them didn't have to pay for that education at all due to the Maintenance Grant.

The government could at least subsidise the degrees that are useful to future employers: Maths, Science, English, Engineering, History etc. At the same time they could have increased Medicine fees because you are all but guaranteed a high paying NHS job at the end and because the course is so expensive to run.

Edit: Actually why the hell is Herbal Medicine a state-funded degree course?

"This exciting and innovative degree programme teaches traditional Western Herbal Medicine in a contemporary framework and fully encompasses the concept of ‘holism’
This course is challenging, mind-expanding, inspirational and 100% worth it. Herbs are the world’s most powerful medicine and this course will show you why.
We acknowledge that a curative treatment for illness requires a sophisticated and complex understanding of the dynamics and interactions within the body and that the mind and body cannot be separated. The course provides a comprehensive education and training in the principles and practice of herbal medicine, the ‘energetic’ understanding of the cause of illness, the therapeutic actions of medicinal plants as well as the orthodox disciplines of anatomy, physiology, pathology, nutrition and psychology."
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby bigglesworth » Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:14 am UTC

Actually under the current plans STEM courses still get government funding.

However one of the effects of the current government plan will be a pruning of the lowest universities. This is not really a good thing; these universities are very far from homogeneous. Otherwise low-ranking universities sometimes contain very highly ranked departments in specialities, and there is no mechanism for a highly ranked department to change university if one were to be allowed to die.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Le1bn1z » Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:34 am UTC

Let's clear a few things up.

First, though it will shock many to hear this, the children of the very rich tend to end up in universities. In fact, they are far, far more likely to end up in univerisities than are the children of the poor.

Second, the joyous rain of cheap tuition falls on the rich and poor alike. Generally speaking, as there are more of them, it falls mostly on the rich.

Third, if you have 0 Pounds to your name, a Tuition of 2000, 5000 or 9000 pounds are all equally unattainable.

Now having cleared up the simple stuff, lets get to the crux of the matter. What is the single hardest thing to accomplish as a government? Getting rich people to pay taxes. Or anything. They just aren't interested.

Uniformly "cheap" tuition (that is, cheap if you're already rich) is not socially or economically optimal. All it does is provide extra support to those who need it least, paid for by those who need it most, students from poor backgrounds and those who never make it to university at all.

The best system is high tuition with massive, mandatory bursary funds. Its a way to get the snickering, smug right-wing rich to pay their fair share of the cost of educating the next generation, with a thank you and smile at that (paying market price for things is part of their.... er... do they still count as "principles" if they are devoid of any ethical consideration? Oh well. Its something they have to pretend to be in favour of.)

Besides, in a country that's as far in the fiscal sink hole as the UK, cuts have to be taken where they can. Think of it this way, its tuition or shelters.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Game_boy » Sun Feb 13, 2011 2:16 am UTC

bigglesworth wrote:Actually under the current plans STEM courses still get government funding.


Technically, yes. But the students don't end up paying less or anything.

@Le1bn1z

The issue is the middle class. For my family on ~£50k household income, 2 children * £9k * 4 year MSci is a painful prospect. Even though it is deferred payment.

Your parents' income should be irrelevant to your university chances. The level of funding/subsidy should be enough so that every family sees the same level of financial difficulty independent of income. Right now the very poor get a lot paid (many universities match the maintenance grant so that would be £10-15k*3-4 years of non-repayable funding). Then the threshold for paying everything yourself is fairly low.

What do you think of cutting universities and certain courses first?
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Le1bn1z » Sun Feb 13, 2011 2:50 am UTC

Game_boy wrote:
bigglesworth wrote:Actually under the current plans STEM courses still get government funding.


Technically, yes. But the students don't end up paying less or anything.

@Le1bn1z

The issue is the middle class. For my family on ~£50k household income, 2 children * £9k * 4 year MSci is a painful prospect. Even though it is deferred payment.

Your parents' income should be irrelevant to your university chances. The level of funding/subsidy should be enough so that every family sees the same level of financial difficulty independent of income. Right now the very poor get a lot paid (many universities match the maintenance grant so that would be £10-15k*3-4 years of non-repayable funding). Then the threshold for paying everything yourself is fairly low.

What do you think of cutting universities and certain courses first?


Sure, there are too many in universities straight up. I'd say that the ideal would be to have graduated bursary support: 90% for poorest, 50% for middle, 0% for anyone whose name begins with "Lord."
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Yakk » Sun Feb 13, 2011 3:13 am UTC

Game_boy wrote:The issue is the middle class. For my family on ~£50k household income, 2 children * £9k * 4 year MSci is a painful prospect. Even though it is deferred payment.

So, you do understand that the debt is not "real" in many senses? The payment for the pseudo-debt is deferred, means-tested, and eventually forgiven if not repaid.
Your parents' income should be irrelevant to your university chances.

Why should it be irrelevant? Your ability to get into university in the first place matters far more to your future success than a difference in the means-tested post-university amount you'll be charged.

The advantages the middle classes have in better schooling, better home environments, and more support are far greater than mere access to money. If your goal is to level things, then removing financial barriers is far from sufficient.
The level of funding/subsidy should be enough so that every family sees the same level of financial difficulty independent of income.
Not particularly: that would drive the rich out of using the UK public university system. Or you'd basically have to fully pay for everyone's education with public funds, with no hardship at all for someone to acquire it, because there are people for whom it isn't going to be a hardship at anything less than ridiculously high costs.

Now, you can sort of see this model in the USA -- many top end universities have ridiculous tuitions that they rarely charge. They then means-test it and provide extensive bursaries that extract (to the nickle) as much money from the parents as they think they can get away with. Most of their finances doesn't come from tuition, but instead from past endowments: it was observed by some professor that MIT could drop tuition entirely for undergraduates and not even blink (less than 10% of their income was from undergraduate tuition (balanced against bursaries), or something ridiculous like that. Of course, the US private-university model isn't easy to reproduce without a century of graduates giving money to their Alma mater after succeeding in industry. . .
Right now the very poor get a lot paid (many universities match the maintenance grant so that would be £10-15k*3-4 years of non-repayable funding). Then the threshold for paying everything yourself is fairly low.

The marginal reduction of benefits rate is important as it reduces the incentive to produce, yes.
What do you think of cutting universities and certain courses first?

In theory, if the end-users are given more of the costs, they might make "wise" choices themselves and pick courses that are going to generate good results for the student, financially.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Angua » Sun Feb 13, 2011 10:23 am UTC

OK OK,

I realise I'm not the moderator, but I was more of hoping that instead of this becoming about the pros and cons of higher fees, it was actually about the fact that now we have higher fees, and universities are wanting to charge them, the government is trying to stop them from doing so unless they increase access to certain targets. After the government saying that they were sure most universities wouldn't charge the fees, now that the unis are, the government feels it has to stop them by imposing quotas and fines so that the onus is on the university to get poorer students in, not on the government to make sure that poorer students are getting the education and grades to get in.

For the record, I agree with the way student loans and things are now - I know how much people can get if they're means-tested, just for living expenses, and I think it's great the way the paying it back works. I think it's been detrimental to poorer students who don't go to schools that emphasise how much support is actually available, and so they get the idea from the media that it will now be ridiculously expensive. This is why I"m so annoyed that now the higher fees are in place, the government, instead of emphasing how much you can get if means-tested, seems to be letting unis give poorer students the first year free, (so they can try university I guess before committing?) and making the universities pay for it, all the while trying to limit how much the universities can charge depending on how many poor students they manage to get to come.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Yakk » Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:57 pm UTC

Are you taking what the government and universities say at face value?

Sure, the government said that it didn't expect universities to charge the maximum amount, but why would you believe that they actually think that? Saying that lets them set a higher "max" value while claiming that anyone who uses that higher max value to score political points against them is disingenuous. They can then use that "max" value when they strip funding from the universities without the universities having to close down. When the universities complain, they can cite their claim that they didn't intend universities to use the "max" value as justification to coerce the universities into scoring political points for them with the universities own money.

The big downside for the government to this is that it is a somewhat negative story that all of this attention is keeping in the news. But even that might be good, because the majority of UK citizens are not university educated by far. Saying "we'll make them pay" might actually score points with a good chunk of the UK citizen base. Of course, it is probably true that a larger percentage of parents think that their kids might go to university than actually happens? So that could backfire. (a parent who thinks that their kid is going to university, but it isn't actually going t happen, sees a 12,000 pound tuition hike, and imagines it impacts them. So you have a multiplier effect on how big the actual number of impacted people balloons into the number of people who imagine they are impacted. Sort of like the 'merkin thing where saying "the top 1% of taxpayers" gets ballooned into a larger number of people who imagine that "one day, that will be me"?)
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Angua » Sun Feb 13, 2011 2:07 pm UTC

I'm really not sure what to believe, which is mainly why I started the thread - to try and get other views on the subject (if there is one thing that generally happens in N&A, it is many opposing viewpoints). At the moment, I mainly see it as the government trying to put its failures at education on to the universities to correct (which I don't think is feasible), and making universities the culprits of socio-economic unfairness rather than what occurs earlier on in the education system which universities don't have any control over.

(I think you're in agreement with me that the government is acting disingenously,though we may differ on whether or not this is to be expected - I'm sorry if I'm reading you wrongly). I sadly realise that the aim of the government is more often to score points than to do good, but I was wondering if I was somehow misinterpreting what the government is currently doing, rather than it doing something which isn't a feasible idea.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Game_boy » Sun Feb 13, 2011 4:20 pm UTC

No, I think your interpretation is correct Angua. This happened with the introduction of tuition fees too: the government promised a range of fees and all but a handful charged £3000 immediately. I think it's intentional - the only way they could make the announcement palatable was by claiming this wouldn't happen. So now they have to look surprised.

I don't think universities are capable of broadening access. The financial barrier is minimal, and applications are solely merit based. The government is asking for the impossible, unless they want unis to actually take less able poor students over more able rich ones. The problem with access is inequality in high school provision as others have said, in particular the 'soft' aspect of creating a culture where kids believe they can go to university and the schools help them to see that and achieve it.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Vaniver » Mon Feb 14, 2011 2:42 am UTC

Bakemaster wrote:For my part, I don't understand how anyone on a scientifically-minded forum such as this can seriously argue that a group should be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, no matter how great the potential reward.
It's pretty easy, especially when it comes to university educations, many of which are actually negative value for their pursuers. The assumption that everyone would be better off if they went to college than if they didn't is a rather problematic one.


Re: broadening access. Who is the marginal college student? In America, according to Tyler Cowen, it is "someone who cannot write a clear English sentence, perhaps cannot read well, and cannot perform all the functions of basic arithmetic." This article by the Atlantic gives the same impression, but with much more pathos. I do not know if the situation in the UK is similar, but I imagine if it isn't that it must eventually reach that point.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Bakemaster » Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:46 am UTC

I have absolutely no clue what you're on about being easy, Vaniver.

Forgive me for wanting a little specificity.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Angua » Mon Feb 14, 2011 8:27 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Mr. Bakerstein wrote:For my part, I don't understand how anyone on a scientifically-minded forum such as this can seriously argue that a group should be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, no matter how great the potential reward.
It's pretty easy, especially when it comes to university educations, many of which are actually negative value for their pursuers. The assumption that everyone would be better off if they went to college than if they didn't is a rather problematic one.


Re: broadening access. Who is the marginal college student? In America, according to Tyler Cowen, it is "someone who cannot write a clear English sentence, perhaps cannot read well, and cannot perform all the functions of basic arithmetic." This article by the Atlantic gives the same impression, but with much more pathos. I do not know if the situation in the UK is similar, but I imagine if it isn't that it must eventually reach that point.
I don't really understand what exactly you are saying. In the UK, you generally have to have got the required grades in certain subjects in order to get into certain courses, as that is supposed to show that you have the basic knowledge and skills required to do the course, which is generally a bit more than being able to write, read and do a bit of math. We don't really have a system where you can just do what ever subject you want at low levels which are basically remedial - you apply for the course and have to be able to understand what's going on at the rate they throw it at you, and have to be able to do the work (and have the discipline to do self-directed learning). You generally have to pass exams at the end of each year of your course, or you retake the exams/redo the entire year.

So I guess our 'marginal college student' would be one who doesn't fit all of those requirements.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Vo2max » Mon Feb 14, 2011 9:44 am UTC

Angua wrote:I'm really not sure what to believe, which is mainly why I started the thread - to try and get other views on the subject (if there is one thing that generally happens in N&A, it is many opposing viewpoints). At the moment, I mainly see it as the government trying to put its failures at education on to the universities to correct (which I don't think is feasible), and making universities the culprits of socio-economic unfairness rather than what occurs earlier on in the education system which universities don't have any control over.


That's about right. I posted the stats for Oxbridge entrance from private vs state schools on the other thread, and the same private schools are consistently over-represented in high positions in the UK. As unfair as the 11+ was, at least the grammar school system did provide some opportunity for the bright working-class and lower-middle-class kids to compete. Tackling the educational inequalities once you get to the 18-21 age group is really far too late.

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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:35 am UTC

Le1bn1z wrote:The best system is high tuition with massive, mandatory bursary funds. Its a way to get the snickering, smug right-wing rich to pay their fair share of the cost of educating the next generation, with a thank you and smile at that (paying market price for things is part of their.... er... do they still count as "principles" if they are devoid of any ethical consideration? Oh well. Its something they have to pretend to be in favour of.)

Besides, in a country that's as far in the fiscal sink hole as the UK, cuts have to be taken where they can. Think of it this way, its tuition or shelters.

Yakk wrote:Now, you can sort of see this model in the USA -- many top end universities have ridiculous tuitions that they rarely charge. They then means-test it and provide extensive bursaries that extract (to the nickle) as much money from the parents as they think they can get away with. Most of their finances doesn't come from tuition, but instead from past endowments: it was observed by some professor that MIT could drop tuition entirely for undergraduates and not even blink (less than 10% of their income was from undergraduate tuition (balanced against bursaries), or something ridiculous like that. Of course, the US private-university model isn't easy to reproduce without a century of graduates giving money to their Alma mater after succeeding in industry. . .

I don't like this method of pricing because it hides the amount you have to pay until well into the application process and may obscure the true cost entirely. When I buy a car, it is $20,000 no matter how much I have in savings. I could make the $20,000 over the period of a loan (plus interest) or I could pay cash because my 52" TV in my shoe closet is feeling lonely. It doesn't matter, the price is the same. Universities obscure that by competing on sticker price, then adding the asterisk that 1/3 of the people there are on scholarship and 98% are on some type of financial aid, meaning that they might as well be making up numbers like a housing price.
Don't get me started about the yearly tuition increases over here. Is inflation really that bad, or is the value of a bachelor's degree really that much more valuable?
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Sounds like the B.A. version of a B.S. in underwater basketweaving
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Yakk » Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:56 pm UTC

cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:I don't like this method of pricing because it hides the amount you have to pay until well into the application process and may obscure the true cost entirely.

Yep. Have you heard of the confusopoly? Confuse prices as much as possible.
Is inflation really that bad, or is the value of a bachelor's degree really that much more valuable?

The top price they demand grows very fast. Bursaries also increase, as do loan programs.

They want to charge as much as the market would bear, each consumer individually. The question they have is not "are we 20% better than last year" but rather "if we charge 20% more, do we still fill the spot?"

Remember that western countries are engaging in massive fiscal stimulus (and have, collectively, been doing it for a long time). There is a huge deflationary pressure from "coming on-line" industrial nations ranging from Korea to India to China driving down prices and eating the economies from the bottom -- so there is lots of cash for goods that are "elite" (less likely to be produced in recently coming on-line industrial nations) and "local" in a sense (hence the services boom).
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Deep_Thought » Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:31 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:
cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:I don't like this method of pricing because it hides the amount you have to pay until well into the application process and may obscure the true cost entirely.

Yep. Have you heard of the confusopoly? Confuse prices as much as possible.

This is currently my biggest reason for disliking the new UK system of loans - it is far too complicated and confusing. Why call it a loan when most people will never pay it back? Why tell universities "You can charge £9000 but anything £6000 comes with lots of icky conditions"? Why design a funding system that only comes out net-positive for the government if high earners are forced to pay the loan off slowly rather than cashing out early? The whole thing smacks of a quick band-aid fix that is just going to cause horrendous problems down the line, whereas what is required is a more fundamental reform. Alas, I fear this would require more political capital than any party has right now. For instance:
Game_boy wrote:I feel they could have cut some of the lower-ranked universities and reduced places before raising fees. People who went to my local university, Lincoln, with 2 Ds and an E at A-level in soft subjects doing BSc Animal Welfare or Herbal Medicine, never used that degree to get a job they couldn't get with A-levels. They had two lectures a week and partied in town all day.

This I couldn't agree more with. The UK is currently stuck in the mindset that you a need a degree for anything but the most menial jobs, and even there one helps. I also had friends at Lincoln but studying Media. At least they went and got jobs in TV, but doing nothing that couldn't have been done straight after A-levels. At some level university education seems to be more about keeping people out of the "unemployed" column in the statistics books. Yes, education is vital and can be an end in itself but two lectures a week is hardly an education.
I agree with the reason, however they could just say no to the EU. They will do so on giving prisoners the right to vote, for example.

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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Adacore » Mon Feb 14, 2011 2:12 pm UTC

With regards to the social divide thing, there are only two ways you're going to get increased numbers of poorer students going to the top universities: either you reinstate some kind of streaming system (as Vo2max says, while the 11+ did have problems, it was a hell of a lot better than what we have today - the system should've been improved and the problems fixed, rather than scrapping the thing wholesale); or you ban private education completely (which, I would say, is politically if not actually impossible). Even that doesn't entirely solve the problem, since richer middle class families can afford to (and do) move to certain areas in order to ensure their children get into the best schools.

(I should state that I'm biased here. I passed the 11+ and went to a grammar school in one of the counties that still have them - I feel I missed out on a lot that comprehensive schools have to offer from a social perspective (an integrated multi-level streaming system would be better here), but my education was top class.)

The high fees might put off poorer kids (although they shouldn't, if bursaries and means testing is working correctly), but the real problem is that at the school level in normal comprehensives those kids are expected not to go to university. At my grammar school, it was just taken as read that every one of us would go on to higher education - I think I know one girl from school who left to be a junior accountant (which is hardly a blue collar job), and that was a big shock. Unless you can change the culture of normal secondary schools so it is seen as normal that the brighter kids all (or mostly) go to university, the problems with social mobility are not going to go away. They have, in reality, relatively little to do with fees (imo).

That's not saying fees are a bad thing. I think all education should be free (possibly, as I hinted above, mandatorily so), but I think problems with our education system are far worse in the 11-18 bracket than in higher education.

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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Vaniver » Mon Feb 14, 2011 2:19 pm UTC

Bakemaster wrote:I have absolutely no clue what you're on about being easy, Vaniver.
That people should be able to succeed though the application of effort- i.e. pull themselves up by their bootstraps. That position is made easier to hold by the belief that an education is not a substitute for effort, and that the myth that they can be substituted is directly harmful to people who forgo working in order to get a degree, or who are required to sink time and money into pursuing scholarly training that will not benefit them. That is, there are people who consider themselves failures (or are prevented from entering their career of choice) because they couldn't jump through an unnecessary hoop, but who would have succeeded if American society did not have its fetish for schooling.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby stevey_frac » Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:14 pm UTC

Le1bn1z wrote:Let's clear a few things up.

First, though it will shock many to hear this, the children of the very rich tend to end up in universities. In fact, they are far, far more likely to end up in univerisities than are the children of the poor.

Second, the joyous rain of cheap tuition falls on the rich and poor alike. Generally speaking, as there are more of them, it falls mostly on the rich.

Third, if you have 0 Pounds to your name, a Tuition of 2000, 5000 or 9000 pounds are all equally unattainable.

Now having cleared up the simple stuff, lets get to the crux of the matter. What is the single hardest thing to accomplish as a government? Getting rich people to pay taxes. Or anything. They just aren't interested.

Uniformly "cheap" tuition (that is, cheap if you're already rich) is not socially or economically optimal. All it does is provide extra support to those who need it least, paid for by those who need it most, students from poor backgrounds and those who never make it to university at all.

The best system is high tuition with massive, mandatory bursary funds. Its a way to get the snickering, smug right-wing rich to pay their fair share of the cost of educating the next generation, with a thank you and smile at that (paying market price for things is part of their.... er... do they still count as "principles" if they are devoid of any ethical consideration? Oh well. Its something they have to pretend to be in favour of.)

Besides, in a country that's as far in the fiscal sink hole as the UK, cuts have to be taken where they can. Think of it this way, its tuition or shelters.


Did it ever occur to you that the rich tend to invest more in their children, and that they actually perform better? Probably not. After all, left wing nuts like you tend to believe that everyone is exactly equal regardless of all proof to the contrary. A lot of those rich kids deserve to be there more then poor kids, because they have achieved higher academic prowess. SAT scores correlate quite nicely with income. The fact that they are better able to pay for it is only part of the problem.

Also, your assumption is wrong that rich people don't pay taxes. Even in rich person friendly U.S, the top 1% of income earners paid more in income tax then the bottom 90%. So this idea that the 'snickering right-wing rich' don't pay tax is quite erroneous.

So, basically, the rich, and super rich pay more for tuition then the poor do anyways, in the form of taxes.

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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Zamfir » Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:23 pm UTC

stevey_frac wrote:A lot of those rich kids deserve to be there more then poor kids, because they have achieved higher academic prowess.

Exactly. They deserve it. Those poor kids should have chosen richer parents. But no. They chose to be raised by poor people. And now they complain that they don't get the same chances in life as the kids of richer parents.

Lefty whiners, all of them. Ever hear a rich person complain about being rich? So why do poor people complain about being poor?

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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Yakk » Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:29 pm UTC

stevey_frac wrote:Also, your assumption is wrong that rich people don't pay taxes. Even in rich person friendly U.S, the top 1% of income earners paid more in income tax then the bottom 90%. So this idea that the 'snickering right-wing rich' don't pay tax is quite erroneous.

It is close to the Bottom 95% apparently.
And the top 1% of income earners, who average over $1 million a year, actually pay a smaller percentage of their incomes to taxes than the 9% just below them.

Ie, as a percentage of what society enables them to earn, the top income earners pay less for societal upkeep.
In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers)

So the top 1% of households have twice the wealth of the bottom 80%. This is in 2007, and since then the housing bust has reduced the household wealth of the top 1% less than the rest:
Edward Wolff, the economist we draw upon the most in this document, concludes that there has been an "astounding" 36.1% drop in the wealth (marketable assets) of the median household since the peak of the housing bubble in 2007. By contrast, the wealth of the top 1% of households dropped by far less: just 11.1%.

Ie, the gap is larger.

I'd actually suspect that the top 1% of US citizens have more wealth (and hence power, and benefits from being in US society) than the bottom 90% do at this point. If this isn't true, it will be very close.
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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby stevey_frac » Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:34 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Exactly. They deserve it. Those poor kids should have chosen richer parents done better in school. But no. They chose to be raised by poor people not to, or were limited by their ability. And now they complain that they don't get the same chances in life as the kids of richer parents those who are more able than them.



Fixed that for you.

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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby Zamfir » Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:44 pm UTC

That's what I said. Lazy buggers. Of course, they could easily do better in school. Rich kids can do it too after all, and what benefits do rich kids have that poor kids lack?

You know, this would be a whole other argument if rich kids had, say, more money to buy them support. Or parents with lots of experience in knowing what gets you ahead in the world, who can show their kids naturally what to do, and who can tell quickly when their kids are deviating from the right path.

But of course, rich kids have no such advantages. All they have is more in-born virtue. That makes sense, since they inherited that virtue from their parents, who must be virtuous, because how else could they be rich?

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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby stevey_frac » Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:45 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:And the top 1% of income earners, who average over $1 million a year, actually pay a smaller percentage of their incomes to taxes than the 9% just below them.

Ie, as a percentage of what society enables them to earn, the top income earners pay less for societal upkeep.
[/quote]

The idea that the evil right-wing rich people sit behind their castle walls, giggling, while they don't pay tax is a common left-wing theme. But the truth is the rich pay more in tax then anyone else in the country. In fact they pay more in tax then most of the rest of the country combined. And the robin-hood types still feel it's not enough. After all, the poor shouldn't EARN their keep. The rich can afford to pay everyone's way, right? That'll encourage everyone to work extra-hard too.

Edward Wolff, the economist we draw upon the most in this document, concludes that there has been an "astounding" 36.1% drop in the wealth (marketable assets) of the median household since the peak of the housing bubble in 2007. By contrast, the wealth of the top 1% of households dropped by far less: just 11.1%.

Ie, the gap is larger.[/quote]

That the rich are rich, and that they weren't as tied up in the housing boom is to be expected. Most people lost wealth because the value of their house dropped.

I'd actually suspect that the top 1% of US citizens have more wealth (and hence power, and benefits from being in US society) than the bottom 90% do at this point. If this isn't true, it will be very close.


You say that like it's a bad thing.

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Re: UK University fees and funding

Postby stevey_frac » Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:49 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:That's what I said. Lazy buggers. Of course, they could easily do better in school. Rich kids can do it too after all, and what benefits do rich kids have that poor kids lack?

You know, this would be a whole other argument if rich kids had, say, more money to buy them support. Or parents with lots of experience in knowing what gets you ahead in the world, who can show their kids naturally what to do, and who can tell quickly when their kids are deviating from the right path.

But of course, rich kids have no such advantages. All they have is more in-born virtue. That makes sense, since they inherited that virtue from their parents, who must be virtuous, because how else could they be rich?


None of which changes the fact that the rich kids are more successful academically. I never denied that they have advantages. In fact, I explicitly state that rich parents invest more in their children. I just deny that we must forcibly penalize the successful in order to give those who are less able a chance.

That'd be like awarding a contract to a company that produces a more expensive product that is inferior in quality or performance, solely to be 'fair'. Fortunately, out there in the real world, we care about what you can do, not why you aren't as good as the people who win.


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