I’m more than a bit fed up with the NUS. This is a body which seems to exist solely to further the political aspirations of those involved, and spends most of its time playing politics at the expense of the least fortunate pupils and students in this country. Their response to the Browne review demonstrates how politicised they have become, and how willing they are to sacrifice what they proclaim to believe in.
Today the Lib Dems effectively ruled out removing the cap on fees. This is a move that will only make a difference to the richest of graduates, and which puts thousands of pounds back in their pockets. With repayments and interest rates both capped under Browne’s recommendations, the poorest graduates pay back less than they do under current system, only the better off pay more, and nobody pays back more than they can afford. The loan is also written off after a set period, so nobody is followed by the spectre of debt into their old age.
The status quo on the other hand treats almost everybody the same, with someone on £25,000 being hit harder than someone on £250 million. More to the point, the status quo has our university educations being subsidised by bottom rate taxpayers struggling to make ends meet, and who have never received any direct benefit from university. If we get the benefit, we should bear the cost.
The only problem with Browne is that headline fee levels might put off students from lower income backgrounds. This, I agree, is a serious issue. However, it is not insurmountable. Proper careers advice and responsible media reporting would let poorer students know that they will never be asked for more than they can afford, and the sums they pay will only be large if their salaries are as well.
This is where the NUS come in. The primary reason this problem exists, and that thousands of school children across Britain think they can’t afford to pay for university, is because the NUS tell them that. They come on TV and tell pupils that if you’re not from Eton, you can’t afford it. They pronounce in the papers that it’ll be infinitely harder for children from state schools. And these children believe them. They believe the students put in place to look after them, who take more interest in getting a column in that week’s Guardian than in opening up access.
For once, a fairer system of university funding is being proposed. One that makes it easier for lower income graduates to repay their debts, and that stops lumbering taxpayers with the cost of our tutorials. Sadly a bunch of people are too busy targeting their £65,738 salaries in Westminster to think about the multitudes of people who benefit from fairer repayments, and the schoolchildren whose aspiration is crushed by their false tales of impossible fees.