Monday, February 12, 2007

How Universities should be funded ... IMHO

Tony Blair is trying to do some last minute legacy shopping by suggesting Universities gather endowments with the tax payer throwing money it to match 50%.

Well that will make Oxford and Cambridge richer than they are now. (Wasn't Blair at Oxford ? Maybe he's hoping for a new job at a University somewhere - they'll need endowments if they are going to pay his salary.)

Man in a Shed's plan would be to allow a large amount of University funding to be proportional to the income tax paid by each institutions graduates. ( Some sort of sliding scale to reduce the effect over time would help focus Universities on added value to their graduates, and not having large courses that pay lecturers well and are cheap, but ruin the lives of their students. )

The complaints that usually follow on low paid course like religious studies could be handled with explicit grants.

Update: See the effect of fees on applications for University as reported in the Daily Telegraph here.

6 comments:

Reactionary Snob said...

I have to say that I agree with higher fees but that higher fees should be linked to the creation of bursaries for lower income children.

Furthermore, I would encourage like Blair is giving money back to your alma mater.

How are things anyway? I've had a busy start to the year but hopefully back to someone near my blogging best.

RS

Man in a shed said...

Things are going OK - as far as I can tell - thanks for asking RS. Blogging taking up far too much time. I'm considering doing a string of more thought through posts for a bit (sort of white paper style) - less frequent and reactive, more thought.

I'm always wary of the argument about low income family students. As a University education should impart the same advantage on all of similar ability and dedication. I think this issue is often raised by middle class socialists to help deal with some form of guilt they have.

The advantage of the income tax approach is that it will encourage supply of the skills the economy most needs.

It may be that people from families with no experience of further education need to have the advantages explained to them clearly. But if they can't grasp that then they may not benefit from further education at all.

I can see that the idea of student fees and loans is off putting - but the loans are on spectacularly good terms. Perhaps the government should allow private companies to by a proportion of the future income tax receipts from individuals in exchange for providing a grant. ( The terms would depend on the course and likely yield - but spreading the risk across many individuals. Financial markets should be able to handle this. )

komadori said...

'The advantage of the income tax approach is that it will encourage supply of the skills the economy most needs.'

No, it will encourage supply of skills that are highly paid (degree in football anyone?). There's a good match in many cases, but not all. Whilst there are regulated markets and a public sector, there will be a mismatch between pay and economic need.

Man in a shed said...

Komadori,

I doubt a degree in David Beckham studies (which Manchester Met had going at one point) improved anyone's earning potential.

If there is over supply - wages will fall - undersupply wages rise and more students get encouraged to study that subject/profession.

What has really worried me is what I consider to be the abuse of young students by lecturers on certain subjects who are encouraged to study subjects thta will actually reduce their life chances ( microbiology for men for example actually makes them worse off ).

Education has become about being a producer lobby - lots of votes for Labour - not about helping the people of the UK.

Once you've been in the outside world for a bit you realise just how much of education is totally wasted, inefficient and poorly presented.

A brochure dropped through my door this morning for commerical courses - they are at about GBP1.5k to GBP2k for 5 days. These companies can charge this because they deliver more than that in value. The same cannot be said of our state education system.

On the public sector - I workers in the public sector were paid on the same basis as everyone else ( money purchase pensions / same holidays / same job security - ie little - no gimmics for 'key workers' which are really just ways of creating client voter blocks.)

Education is a great scandal in this country - and the youth of England are its victims.

Anonymous said...

As said above.. it could certainly get rid of some mickey mouse degrees but, likewise, it panders to the high-paying jobs (business, marketing) and will probably further reduce the number of physicists (who are very poorly paid alas) and other science graduates..

Man in a shed said...

With some of the sciences I think supply and demand are mixed up. We don't need to many physicists - though people with those skills will do very well in the financial industry.

We do need more engineers. If that message could be got across to school leavers then it would be a good thing.