Sunday, 12 December 2010

Lack of Strateigic Thinking

I was pondering last night over the storm that has been whippd up over student fees and the subsidisation of further education in general. After all, EMA is being abolished next year.

On the one hand, there's the argument that why should the majority of us pay for the education of a minority? Why shouldn't graduates bear the cost of their own further education? Why should we pay kids to attend college through EMA?

Well, lets take EMA first. Granted, my generation never got paid to go to college, but then the hard up families got scholarships, or alternatively there were enough ONC/HND/BTEC technical courses tied to apprenticeships that were provided on day release from work, effectively paying the attendee a days pay to attend college. So, in a way, EMA is only filling the gap that employers have vacated. Someone has to keep the numbers of kids going to college up, unfortunately its fallen to the government to step into the breach. Why should the government fill this hole? I'll get onto that later.

Lets now have a look at university courses and fees. Again, my generation benefitted from subsidised university courses paid for out of general taxation. The argument for fees says why should the whole of the population pay a small minority to attend university. Why shouldn't those that go to university who then benefit from higher wages pay something back? Well, because they were already paying something back in the form of higher taxation. If they're going to pay their fees back, in effect paying for that "privileged" education, why then should they be asked to pay a higher rate of income tax than someone that hasn't gone to university? Tit for Tat: you don't want to pay for my education, ok, I'll pay for it, but I'll just pay the same income tax as you.
But no, the unfairness in the system is that those degree students that go on to better jobs who earn higher wages have to pay back their tuition fees and pay higher income tax.

A final point is why should the state subsidise higher education at all? After all, its a minority of people that attend isn't it? If we didn't have these courses, then we wouldn't have trained doctors, nurses, engineers, scientists, etc. Exactly the people we need to take this country forward and grow it. Higher education is a strateigic resource and is just as important as any other. Just as food supply, energy supply and water supply are essential now and in the future, its also essential that we have a constant supply of bright young graduates of a consistent calibre in order to keep up with our competitors. What we certainly cannot afford is that those bright young things leave the country or fail to get educated. If that happens, we are at a strateigic disadvantage compared to other countries, we slip back and lose the ability to compete.

In the past I've bemoaned the lack of long-term thinking in this country, where politics can only think in terms of short-term tactical thinking and student fees, along with the gaping hole in our energy supply strategy are prime examples of this. No-one in government seems to be able to think any further than the next election. Nothing is done for the benefit of the country any more, its done in the name of the party, in the name of being re-elected and continuing in power.

Has our government become so irellevant in the EU matrix that it has lost the ability to work in the interests of the UK any more? Is this an indication of the EU policy of "no more countries"? Is it a corporate ploy to create a set of homogenised global drones, only fit to serve the political elite? Is this lack of credible strategy an honest error, or a product of decades of party politics?

I can't identify the cause: it may be any one of those factors, or a combination of all of them.

All I know it that it absolutely fails to serve the interests of the United Kingdom, it fails to ensure our status in Europe and the wider world. In essence, it is treason.

2 comments:

  1. Del, could you explain what EMA is? I had to look it up.

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  2. Education Maintainance Allowance. Basically kids are paid to attend college. They have to do over a minimum nunber of hours. Anything less than the minimum means they lose the money for that week.

    My daughter is doing A-levels at the moment and she gets £20 a week. She uses it to pay for bus fare (£65 a term bus pass organised through college) and anything else she needs for college.

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