Wednesday, 13 October 2010

My view on the Browne Review

Yesterday Lord Browne (Head of BP until his resignation in 2008) published his report entitled "Securing a Sustainable Future for Higher Education" that gave recommendations for university funding. His review calls for:

- The current tuition fee cap of £3,290 to be lifted and for universities to be allowed to set their own price
- Universities which charge more than £6,000 a year will be hit by government charges but they could charge as much as £12,00 a year
- The salary threshold at which student loan repayments start should be raised from the current £15,000 to £21,000
- Universities that want to charge more than £6,000 will have to meet high standards of teaching and contribute more to poorer students
- No student would pay back their loan until they were in work with outstanding loans written off for 30 years
- Higher-earning graduates would pay back their loans at an interest rate equal to the Government's cost of borrowing, while those earning below the threshold would pay no real interest rate

I have mixed feelings about this review as I was the first person in my family to go to university and just managed to miss paying tuition fees that I campaigned against whilst at Lancaster University but I do understand that our universities need to be funded adequately.

Our CF Chairman Ben Howlett made a statement on behalf of CF and supports Browne's recommendations. He focuses on the neglect of higher education under Labour over the last 13 years as the major reason as to why university fees have to go up.

To be fair I agree with this sentiment somewhat as Labour did not invest into our universities and instead created targets that 50% of 18 year olds must go to university which is why at some universities the drop out rate is 25% as they did not want to even be there in the first place.

We should be investing in our universities and there are a few progressive proposals in the review that I support such as raising the threshold of repayment to £21,000 and bringing in extra grants and loans for the poorest students.

However one of the main reasons as to why I am a Conservative is because I believe that if you work hard and grab every opportunity you can then you should prosper. I hope that the idea of a loan will not penalise students who want to go to university as this will be very damaging in the national interest.

Personally I believe that full student grants should be brought back (as they were in the 80s) so that someone from a poor background who does not want to get into debt/cannot afford too get into debt can still attend university. 

Other views on the Browne Review in the blogosphere:

at tbg: "Education must be accessible to all, no matter how much money you have. It looks as if it'll be the middle classes not sending their children to university."

at ConservativeFuture to read CF Chairman Ben Howlett's statement in full

It's interesting to note that the youth movement of the Liberal Democrats is not toeing the party line on this one: "Fee Rise would be a disaster"

Let me know what you think.....

Read the report in full HERE

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