Who pays for University education?

Proposals have recently come out regarding the funding of University education. One of the key proposals involves a substantial increase in tuition fees. Of course this money is needed because there are so many people going to University these days that the state can’t possibly afford to fund it.

The aim of getting everyone into further education is a noble one but does it really make sense? Are students going to university to study anything other that science, medicine, engineering etc. really gaining anything that adds value to the economy? How many top writers have an English literature degree? I have no idea but suspect it is few. Are arts degrees anything more than studies for interest and proof of ability to learn and sit exams?

The problem is that with so many going to University degrees don’t even provide that proof anymore.

If you look at the economics from the other side it is often quoted that the average graduate salary is x thousand pounds higher than the average non-graduate. This figure is partly distorted by some very large numbers so the median would look a lot closer I suspect. It also seems a fairly obvious analysis to me that as more people go to university this gap will get smaller as there is only so much money to go around.

Getting that out of the way what I really wanted to point out was an odd inconsistency in what I’ve seen of the proposed policy.

1. Fees will only be paid once earning more than a certain salary, in this way the only people paying for the education will be those that benefit from it.

2. Poorer students will get money to help.

So who is paying. The first point implies the student is benefiting and so pays whereas the second suggests that parents would be paying and so poorer students need help.

This seems quite inequitable and you could surely then have the case that one student gets no help and earns e.g. 25,000 a year so pays back his loan over pretty much his entire life having not benefited that much from university whereas another could get help with paying the fees and then earn 50,000 a year and pay the loan off quite quickly easily.