Friday, December 10, 2010

Caroline Lucas on Fees

Yesterday Caroline Lucas MP made two sterling performances on tuition fees. First of all in the House was short and sweet. The constrained debate time and number of MPs wanting to speak makes it a stroke of luck she got to say anything at all.

"The hon. Gentleman rightly spoke about the importance of employers paying their contribution towards higher education. Does he therefore support the University and College Union's proposal for a business education tax that would essentially be a corporation tax on the 4% biggest companies that benefit directly from graduates? That would generate £3.9 billion for higher education and would mean that we could scrap tuition fees altogether."
Tax the richest to enable equal access to education? Seems reasonable to me, thanks to UCU for the plan. The second was a speech to the crowd outside where she got to speak for slightly longer and you can watch it here;

Good stuff. There's also some views on the all important EMA here.



I find the students' call for 'free education' really annoying - they mean free to them which means I (who didn't go to university) pay for them to do so.

Pippa said...

But being graduates mean they are more likely to pay larger amounts of tax and you and me and all of us will benefit from that. Funding education is an investment not a cost.

Jim Jepps said...

Quite Pippa.

Gideon - assuming you didn't go to public school you wont have paid to go to school, yet you directly benefit from being literate and able to add up and take away.

Education is a social good in a number of ways and the investment more than pays for itself.

The fact is we can take two different world views - one where we have a society where what benefits you often benefits me, where a socially just society has less crime, is more productive, is more culturally interesting and is happier all of which are social consequences that benefit me, or one where we are isolated individualists where poverty, illiteracy, bad health, etc are all someone else's problem unless it effects us directly - in which case you better pray your rich.

Joe Otten said...

Yes Jim, we're all in it together, so Gideon should pay extra taxes to pay for an education for you that he can't have. One that means he won't be considered for many jobs that he could do because a degree is a convenient pre-screening device.

You may want to tax the rich more, but an honest approach to the fees question will recognise the balance of taxes that actually are paid, not what you would like that balance to be.

Even the NUS recognised the need for a graduate contribution. The principal difference between their policy and the government's is that under the government's policy the poor will pay less and the rich will pay more.

Now quite why the 4% biggest companies should be taxed differently to other sizes is a complete mystery. Why do the Greens fetishise the size of a business over issues like, say, its environmental impact or social responsibility.

Jim Jepps said...

Joe, I'm unlikely to be going to university again, but I'm confident that I'll be paying taxes, so I'm not arguing for him to pay for my education - I'm arguing that both he and I are better off ensuring the next generation are educated properly rather than creating a generation that has less opportunities and more debt than the one I belong to.

We are up for environmental taxes too - but we'd rather criminalise the worst polluters than make money out of them I suppose.

rashid1891 said...

it is good site


Pippa - sorry, lacking a university education I don't understand. You going to university, getting a degree and then paying more taxes makes my life a bed of roses? You want the education - you pay for it.

The Snarkery said...

Gideon, paying more taxes means graduate already contribute disproportionately to all governemnet services. The only way this would not benefit you is if you have never used any government services:primary or secondary schooling, GP, hospital visits, rubish collection,driving on a road or walking on a pavement etc.

Of course, this only works if education genuinely adds that much to earning power. I don't believe that's true: if so much extra was really earned from a degree, its costs would be met by the rise in revenue from ordinary income tax, a graduate tax would be superfluous. If this is not the case, then degrees do not benefit their holders enough financially. Degrees are more likely to have economic benefit collectively rather than individually, particularly engineering & science degrees. For example, the wage for someone researching alzheimers...

I think degrees have a worth that is more than instrumental, they confer non-instrumental benefits that can only be paid back by adding to society's culture/progress, not by a financial contribution.