10 Views

The blame for tuition fees can be laid at the feet of Tony Blair

After Labour leader Ed Miliband announced that university tuition fees would be cut from £9,000 per year to £6,000 if his party wins May’s general election, many students will be rejoicing.

The work of those nasty Tories who trebled tuition fees with the help of their turncoat liberal sidekicks will be tempered and millions of young people will be better off.

Yet this perception is not grounded in reality.

On the one hand Miliband’s proposal has been dismissed as a piece of populist gimmickry that will a £10bn black hole in university revenues.

On the other, those opposed to the current policy need to face the fact that the current fee regime has been fair to students; you only start paying the loan back when you are earning over £21,000 and any debt that remains after 30 years is written off entirely. 

It is also crucial to recognise that current fees are entirely necessary given the massively inflated university population and the state of the nation’s finances.

Indeed, it seems as though this policy announcement has a lot to do with the vast student electorate that is up for grabs after they were so stung by Nick Clegg and his promise not to raise fees.

Yet it is rather ironic that it is the fault of the Labour party and not the current government that the higher education system is in such a mess.

In fact, the finger can be pointed directly at that titan of the centre ground that is Tony Blair.

He strode to power in 1997 amidst waves of optimism, shouting his mantra of “Education, Education, Education,” which included the headline-grabbing 50% target for university participation amongst young adults.     

Given that this figure is near to being achieved, you might wonder why I have singled out Blair’s policy for criticism.

Firstly, because so many people are going to university, we now have a huge lack of people training in skilled professions that pay well, such as plumbing and carpentry.

In addition, not enough young people are embarking on technical apprenticeships because of the societal pressure to go into higher education; leaving a massive skills shortage in vital areas of manufacturing.

Alan Smithers – one of Britain’s leading voices on education – highlighted another point, elucidating the link between Blair’s education policy and tuition fees, “the expansion of higher education and the introduction of tuition fees are not unconnected – the growth could not be afforded out of taxes. 

Blair’s emphasis on university education further undermined the ladders from school into work which were already shaky.”

Indeed, the massive expansion of university places has generated a culture where those who don’t go to university are considered the odd ones out.

University used to be about furthering your knowledge and education because you had the ability and a genuine interest in your subject of choice. Now, many people go because their friends are going and because they want to ‘have fun’.

If they had chosen to go straight into work after leaving school, like the majority of people used to do, there is a good chance that three years in the same job would have brought them promotion and a salary increase; rather than starting at the bottom of the same ladder with £40,000 of debt and a mediocre degree in a soft subject that will bring little, if any, advantage.

The saddest thing about this whole mess is that successive governments will not do anything about it.

It is too politically toxic for politicians to say that there are too many people going to university.

Instead, the unsustainable increase in the numbers of people going into higher education will only further contribute to grade inflation – where you now need a good degree for a job that you would have previously got with good A-levels.

“If I had to characterise the Blair government’s approach to education,” says Professor Smithers, “I would say it has desperately wanted to be seen to be doing good things.” The ultimate consequences of this approach will continue to be felt by successive generations, but given that the figures look good on paper, Blair will not bat an eyelid.

Harry Howard

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia’s Cinderella review
Arts, Film & Theatre
16 views
Arts, Film & Theatre
16 views

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia’s Cinderella review

Georgia Grace - February 23, 2018

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia came to the Theatre Royal Brighton this week with a trio of classic ballet performances to impress a range of audiences.…

Billionaire builds colossal 10,000 year clock
Science, Science & Technology
30 views
Science, Science & Technology
30 views

Billionaire builds colossal 10,000 year clock

Luke Richards - February 23, 2018

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has gone ahead with a plan to build a giant clock to promote long term thinking. The clock's design should allow it to…

Neuroscience: it must be love on the brain
Science, Science & Technology
78 views
Science, Science & Technology
78 views

Neuroscience: it must be love on the brain

Luke Richards - February 23, 2018

If you're madly in love, I'd like to ask you to take a moment to consider what exactly is happening inside your brain. Love is a many-chemical…

Rockets and technopoltics: SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy
Science, Science & Technology
48 views
Science, Science & Technology
48 views

Rockets and technopoltics: SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy

Luke Richards - February 23, 2018

The launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy could become a defining feature in humanity's exploration of space, but this impressive technical feat opens up a new frontier of…

Should the monarchy be abolished?
News
23 views
News
23 views

Should the monarchy be abolished?

Will Cronk - February 23, 2018

YES William Cronk Since the time of Alfred the Great, this country has had a monarch of some form or another. The monarchy has provided stability and…

News, Podcast
28 views

News Round Up: UCU strike updates, tuition fees and more

William Singh - February 23, 2018

In this news round up of the week, Will and Deniz catch you up on everything going on around campus. Thanks for listening and tune in next…

Academic Armchair- iObjectify: self- and other-objectification on Grindr
Features, Top Stories
22 views
Features, Top Stories
22 views

Academic Armchair- iObjectify: self- and other-objectification on Grindr

Devin Thomas - February 23, 2018

The Badger Features Team interviewed Sussex’s Yasin Koc about his work on the psychological factors behind Grindr. He posits that use of the app is associated with…

The Badger Reviews: Derry Girls
Arts, Film & Theatre
25 views
Arts, Film & Theatre
25 views

The Badger Reviews: Derry Girls

Sophie Coppenhall - February 22, 2018

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MwnpSEzprQ[/embedyt] This week, Sophie our film editor, reviews season one of Derry Girls. Have you seen it? What did you think? Leave us a comment on…

Arts, Film & Theatre
40 views

Krater’s Valentine’s Day Special review

Daniel Green - February 21, 2018

Love was in the air at a Valentine’s special of Krater Comedy Club last Wednesday and, despite the pouring rain outside, Komedia was packed full of people…

‘Paws for Pensions’ among strike event schedule
Campus News, News
41 views
Campus News, News
41 views

‘Paws for Pensions’ among strike event schedule

William Singh - February 21, 2018

University of Sussex staff are hosting a full slate of events on strike days, including talks, teach-ins, and even a day to bring along your puppers. Members…

Exploring Mumbai Street Food
Lifestyle
40 views
Lifestyle
40 views

Exploring Mumbai Street Food

Louisa Streeting - February 21, 2018

Mumbai is a place that assaults the senses; an array of smells you’ve never smelt before, vibrant colours, and constant noises from the surge of tourists and…

Comment, Opinion
44 views

Comment Cast: Misogyny In Hollywood

Will Cronk - February 21, 2018

In the is episode, Will and Sophie discuss misogyny in film and tv. For more, pick up a badger around campus or read it online. Tune in…

Students need to support the UCU strike
Comment, Opinion
51 views
Comment, Opinion
51 views

Students need to support the UCU strike

Johnbosco Nwogbo - February 20, 2018

The question of whether or not the current UCU strike is justified is an easily settled one, if one took a broad view. According to the Joseph…

Women’s suffrage 100 years on: what’s changed?
Features, Top Stories
49 views
Features, Top Stories
49 views

Women’s suffrage 100 years on: what’s changed?

Roisin McCormack - February 20, 2018

As it reaches a century since the defining moments of women’s suffrage, Roisin McCormack looks into how much things have really changed. Is a celebration of the…

Retrospective: Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Punch Drunk Love’ (2002)
Arts, Film & Theatre
31 views
Arts, Film & Theatre
31 views

Retrospective: Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Punch Drunk Love’ (2002)

Gabriel Ross - February 20, 2018

During a 2002 interview with Charlie Rose, when asked whether he is going to take some time off, Adam Sandler promptly replies, “I don’t really wanna have…

News
52 views

Live: Students’ Union decides on UCU strike backing

William Singh - February 19, 2018

U.S.S.U-Turn: 54 students decide stance for 17,000
Campus News, News
68 views
Campus News, News
68 views

U.S.S.U-Turn: 54 students decide stance for 17,000

Jordan Wright - February 19, 2018

On Monday 19th February, the Students’ Union Council will vote on whether or not to support the national Univerity  and College Union (UCU) strike action that is…

The Wombats: ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’ review
Arts, Music
38 views
Arts, Music
38 views

The Wombats: ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’ review

Matthew Nicholls - February 19, 2018

Three years after their last release, The Wombats are back with their long awaited fourth album ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’. Since 'Glitterbug' reached number 5…

Artist Focus: Ella Barkhouse
Artist Focus, Arts
50 views
Artist Focus, Arts
50 views

Artist Focus: Ella Barkhouse

Louisa Hunt - February 19, 2018

Ella Barkhouse is a second-year Brighton student, studying Fine Art: Critical Practice course. Her work ranges across all sorts of media, from some more traditional writing, drawing…

The ultimate LGBTQ+ books guide this February
Books
76 views
Books
76 views

The ultimate LGBTQ+ books guide this February

Shiri Reuben - February 19, 2018

  Throughout the month of February, LGBT History Month aims to promote tolerance and spread awareness of the historical and present-day prejudices faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual…