Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tuition fee debate in Britain ii

Sharon Hodgson (L) is pointing out that graduates would have to early upwards of £52,000 not many years out of university in order to stay ahead of the debt and interest that would begin to accumulate.

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Paul Uppal (C) just made a nauseating intervention during Rehman Chishti’s (C) speech to say that it’s not about money, but about individual commitment and perseverance (the implication being that anyone who is daunted by the prospect of tens of thousands of pounds of debt is lacking in moral fibre). “We all have different abilities, we all have different talents, and they have to be nurtured”, Chishti declared as he wrapped up his speech, attacking Labour’s ambition to allow students from all backgrounds to attend university should they so desire.

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Anne Soubry (C) declared that Labour’s big mistake was the “overexpansion of higher degrees that has devalued degrees and falsely raised expectations” of students of the generation now at university. Hers and her party’s is a very instrumentalist view of education, which in itself lacks ambition and is focussed on what students can contribute to select industries rather than on the social good that higher education can do for individuals and for society.

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Julian Lewis, one of the most right-wing Conservatives in the Commons, has declared his opposition to the tuition hikes, movingly recalling his father telling him in his youth in Wales that he didn’t have to know anything about tailoring because he needn’t follow in his footsteps now that there was a system of grants in place to allow people from their background to attend university.

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Pat McFadden (L) is right on to say that “the government are replacing the state’s responsibility with the individual’s”. Like other Labour members, he is really laying into the Liberal Democrats. Vince Cable, on the front bench, looks like he’s ready to cry. He was famous for remarking on Gordon Brown’s transformation from Stalin to Mr Bean. His own descent—from being feted as the most able and principled member of his party and indeed of the coalition to being castigated as a flip-flopping fig-leaf for the Conservatives—has been equally dramatic.

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