Debate raging over at Jeff's blog on a comment the great man made about higher education. I say raging, it is mostly just me who is taking him to task for it.
Comment made by Jeff in his post:
Making students pay. Abso-bloomin-lootly. I find it bizarre that students get such an easy beat. I remember very well how skint I was back then but if we're going to keep the free tuition fees (which we shouldn't if we're serious about long-term investment in our universities), I think the least the youngsters could do is pay their way for water, sewage and rubbish collection. They certainly use their fair share of each.
And subsequent comment in the comments section:
I think my bottom line is, a university degree should be a privilege and not a right. And that should be reflected in the price, somehow.
From that comment, I took Jeff to mean that university should not be free, that it was a privilege and not a right to go and (perhaps unfairly) I thought it also meant that if you couldn't afford it, you couldn't go. To which, I said this:
Are you seriously saying that only those who are privileged enough to have parents that have cash should be allowed to go to uni?
From his comment, I considered that was a fair assessment of his position. However, he subsequently put me right in saying:
You seem to be suggesting that my philosophy is that only people that can afford to go to university should go. That's not what I'm saying.The privilege should be reflected in the cost but for those who can't afford it, and are motivated, enthusiastic and have sufficient intellectual capacity, that cost should be borne by the Government.
Then there was some name-calling, some needling about PhD candidacy and general good-natured banter.
Anyway, the exchange raised for me what is an interesting point. Should students have to pay for their degrees?
The SNP (with help from the Lib Dems) have obviously abolished the graduate endowment, which means that higher education at undergraduate level in Scotland is essentially free. Now, I'm probably with Jeff in thinking that students should have to pay something for their tuition at university (and given I'm a PhD student and I DO have fees, I understand how financially difficult that might be). But I'm not sure how that could be done. Anyone have any thoughts?