Student tuition fees

In light of the recent shennanigans concerning university tuition fees, here’s an idea I’ve had which from the outset at least seems very fair. We all know that there are a lot of wasters who go to University and never really work hard, whilst at the same time some people work exceptionally hard and deserve the best degree at the end of it. Yet all students from both ends of the spectrum are subject to the same tuition fees and also the same tuition subsidies (as students don’t pay all the fees, the LEA pays a contribution too). How is that fair? Well, it’s not, really, and it’s set to become more unfair if the tuition fees go up.

So here are the main issues, at least in my view:

  • Too many students are going to University these days, often to do useless, “Mickey Mouse” degrees (media studies, leisure and tourism studies, etc.)
  • Many of these students have no intention of actually doing any work, whether that means they get a degree or not.
  • Whether a student succeeds or fails, they still use the same financial resources to pay for their course, both from the LEA and their own pockets.
  • Many students from poorer backgrounds cannot afford to attend University, even if they are exceptionally bright.

So here’s my idea: How about some sort of “discount” system that’s directly linked to A-Level grades? I believe there’s a system in use at the moment called “UCAS points”, whereas when I went to University it was just A-Level points. I don’t know about the exact system that UCAS points use, but let’s for the sake of argument assume that they are interchangeable with the former A-Level points system, in that for every grade you receive two points, so an “A” grade would get you 10 points, a “E” grade would get you 2 points, and a “U” grade none at all.

30 points therefore equates to three “A” grades at A-Level, or 6 “A” grades at AS-Level (i.e. excellent grades, proof of hard work and commitment). Let’s then say that if you get 30 points (or more), you receive a 100% discount on your contribution to your university tuition fees. If you get 6 points (three “E” grades), you get a 20% discount. If you receive three “U” grades (zero points), you receive no discount at all, assuming of course a university will take you with those grades (stranger things have happened).

This system would bring the following benefits:

  • Students who work hard during their A-Levels are rewarded with a cheaper education, for they deserve it. They are more likely to make the best of the opportunity presented to them.
  • Students who don’t work hard during their A-Levels are not rewarded as much. It will be more difficult for them to got to university, but the incentive is there.
  • Students who don’t work at all at their A-Levels aren’t rewarded at all.
  • I know it’s generalising, but it’s normally safe to assume that people who don’t work hard at their A-Levels aren’t likely to bother to change their ways when they get to university, and so having no discount on their tuition fees may well deter them from going to university at all, it would be a waste of everyone’s time, including their own. They would be better off starting their career at 18.
  • Bright students from poorer backgrounds who would not normally be able to afford a university education would then be able to because of the large discount they would receive from doing well at A-Level.
  • The theory that if you work hard, you will be rewarded will be restored, rather than the current system of rewarding people whether they work hard or not.

Obviously, I can’t have possibly covered all the angles here because I don’t know the education system well enough and I never will, but don’t you think that at least initially it seems like a reasonably sensible idea?

But then, as with everything that’s “reasonably sensible” in this country, those very words mean that it and nothing like it will ever even be tabled, much less implemented. That is, however, a rant for another day. Probably tommorow.

The only disadvantages I can see with this is that it may be necessary to raise the standard tuition fees in order that those with low or no discounts are able to subsidise those with high or complete discounts. At the end of the day, universities still need a certain amount of money in order to operate properly, and if they just take A-grade students then they’re going to be a bit short of dosh. That’s a problem for an accountant though.

Don’t like this idea? Too right wing? Think I’m ill-informed about such matters? Sorry about that, but I’ll write whatever I like here.