Students' union proposes tax on graduates

No Fees

Despite protests from students against fees and rising economic pressures, the National Union of Students is proposing a tax on graduates.

Having already abandoned the call for abolition of tuition fees for higher education as 'unfeasible', the National Union of Students (NUS) has now suggested a 'tax' on graduates to 'generate income'. The proposed tax marks a shift from decades of opposition to charging for higher education.

NUS president Wes Streeting paid lip-service to the anti-fees lobby, while asserting that income would be generated further down the line by taxing graduates. With regards the NUS's proposed 'graduate tax', Streeting, said:

"Students from across the country will be telling MPs why we need to abolish the disastrous top-up fees system. We are putting forward a radical proposal for an alternative system that is fairer for students, but still generates the kind of income the sector so badly needs.

This week, a BBC survey of UK university vice-chancellors revealed many favour pushing for higher fees, with some suggesting an annual fee on up to £20,000, and more than half looking to impose a minimum annual fee of £5000.

In February, students marched in London in defiance at NUS's abandonment of the 'no fees' demand. While the introduction of fees hasn't caused a drop in student numbers, it has changed the landscape of higher education. More and more students are pursuing flexible or part-time degrees, and because many students can't afford to go through university subsisting solely on loans, record numbers now supplement this with part-time work. Part-time work has been shown to affect the classification of degree that undergraduate students leave university with - those who work 15hrs per week or more are one-third less-likely to get a 2:1 degree or better.

The February marches, despite the NUS position that 'no fees' demands are 'unfeasible', were supported by the student unions of over 20 universities, including Goldsmiths, Bradford, and Cambridge. Many students feel the introduction of fees, and attempts to increase them by universities result in an increase in exclusivity in higher education, growing economic stress on students, and a greater marketisation of education generally.

Comments

Choccy
Mar 18 2009 12:53

What do you expect from a union composed entirely of careerist cunts?

ps, still an objective news report wink

treehugger76
Mar 18 2009 15:31

An effort to replace the hugely unpopular 'Graduate Endowment' Scheme which was scraped in 2005/2006?

anyways, considering most of the people I knew involved with the NUS at university went on to try and forge careers as MPs ect so no surprise it's become a training ground for complete arseholes.

oisleep
Mar 18 2009 15:38

any details of what this proposed tax on graduates actually consists off?

Choccy
Mar 18 2009 15:48

I haven't seen anything concrete on what the NUS actually envisages a graduate tax looking like, or whether it would amount to the same as current fees, or proposed fees increases. The NUS position is just an objection to paying at 'point of entry'.

Demogorgon303
Mar 19 2009 08:32

They're simply positioning themselves to "stand up for the student", now that a "debate" on raising the fee cap is beginning. Given that many universities were on the brink of financial collapse before the recession, many more are now feeling severe stress. So new money has to come from somewhere.

One of the two Universities in my region has already announced massive cuts in spending, while the other has an internal policy demanding 5% "efficiencies" (no-one is allowed to use the word cuts) in all departments. There's also a recruitment freeze in place, with many vacated posts not being replaced. And not a missive goes out without mention being made of the pressure being put on the finances by the "massive" pay-rise University workers got recently.

So the choice facing the bougeoisie is simple. Given that they aren't going to pay for it, that leaves three choices: dramatically shrink HE and lay off thousands; tax graduates (which has its own problems - if it means taxing those already paying off student loans, or who aren't earning enough to do so, it will cause problems); or soak the students for the dosh.

Mind you, I was talking to a student a few months ago who did put the problem in a little bit of perspective for me. She was annoyed at the stock market crash because she'd invested the student loan in equities (or rather Daddy had). Luckily, this wouldn't affect her rent - Daddy had bought the house she and her friends were living in ...

Choccy
Mar 19 2009 14:17

Yeah most students have to work record hours of part-time and summer work because they've invested their loans in the stock market hahaa

Choccy
Mar 19 2009 14:32
demogorgon wrote:
So the choice facing the bougeoisie is simple. Given that they aren't going to pay for it, that leaves three choices: dramatically shrink HE and lay off thousands; tax graduates (which has its own problems - if it means taxing those already paying off student loans, or who aren't earning enough to do so, it will cause problems); or soak the students for the dosh.

Agreed, either way HE is facing increasing attacks on a variety of fronts: My own uni:
- talking of increasing fees to 10k p/a,
- many departments (History of Science, Geology, Classics) have been closed in the last few years,
- other departments have been amalgamated,
- while other departments had been seeking compulsory redundancies for the first time ever,
- students locally work the longest hours of any uni in the UK and have the most students by % student population working to support their studies, despite being a 'top 20 Russell Group' dickhead uni.

Thought viewing the recent activity of students, i despair we can do anything wink

Demogorgon303
Mar 19 2009 15:58
Quote:
Yeah most students have to work record hours of part-time and summer work because they've invested their loans in the stock market hahaa

Well, I didn't say most students. But certainly at some institutions there is a sizeable minority that would fall into that category. Maybe I'm just jaded ...

Quote:
Thought viewing the recent activity of students, i despair we can do anything

The best way to trigger militancy amongst the students in my area would be to raise the price of Ugg-boots.

But seriously, for working class students, the screw is really being turned. But it's going to be interesting to see how they manage this ideologically: at the same time as blaming the economic crisis on reckless lending and feckless borrowers, they're telling another section of society to embrace even higher debts?

miles
Mar 19 2009 16:22
Quote:
But it's going to be interesting to see how they manage this ideologically: at the same time as blaming the economic crisis on reckless lending and feckless borrowers, they're telling another section of society to embrace even higher debts?

I think it'll be a case of saying that everyone will have to make sacrifices, which, for the rich will mean lots of hot air about having to 'pay more' (meaning : we're closing current tax holes so get yourself some new ones)

Actually the sheer scale of the attacks generally is making it very hard for the bourgeiosie to hide the depth of the crisis. How can they hope to 'sell' these attacks? In what way can they portray them as somehow 'improvements' or 'efficiencies'??

Choccy
Mar 19 2009 17:33

Demogorgon - while I share your concern that most students are idiots wink I can re-assure you that they haven't invested their student loans in the stock market smile

And i completely agree as regards the state of HE for working class students. A degree was never a guarantee of a stable job anyway, but given the proposed extortinoate rises in fees, rises in costs of living, and general attacks on living conditions all round it seems the prospects for anyone in HE are even grimmer.

Take teaching for example, for the first time in a decade, the government has met its targets for recruiting science and maths teachers.

Why? Because twats who went into finance and city banks are abandoning money-making for the less-precarious (cos I'd hesitate to say 'secure' about any job these days) world of teaching.

What will this mean? With the government no longer as 'desperate' for teachers, it's likely that they will stop funding trainee teachers, and in the long term, I wouldn't be surprised if the bursaries, and the 'golden hellos' for shortage-subjects at least' were retracted or at least slashed.
This would mean that student-teachers would find it much harder to live during the intense PGCE year, as is the case in NI, where students get NO bursary at all. This results in trainee teachers either:
- breaking the bank with loans
- coming from only a proportion of graduates who can afford to be a student again for another year (possibly with rich parents or some independent source of income)
Either way the landscape for postgraduates and trainee teachers is changing as much as it has for undergraduates.

treehugger76
Mar 20 2009 16:48

I agree with raising price of ugg boots. although I'd go so far as to say we should get rid of ugg boots all together.

Also, aside from money and what to do with their student loans, the issues surrounding higher education are similar to those affecting primary schools and nurseries all over the country - amalgamating schools/departments, cutting funds, not replacing teachers ect

our education systems is slowly but surely being torn apart and handed over to the private sector

we really should be coordinating and attacking this issues on all levels from primary/nursery all the way up to higher education

Glasgow City Council is trying to close 25 primary schools and nurseries all over the city, without a decent primary education, how can we expect kids to make it to university?

Choccy
Mar 20 2009 17:06

Oh I agree, the attacks are across the sector. NI is currently facing growing amalgamation of schools because of 'falling pupil numbers'.
Rather than see this as an opportunity to have smaller classroom sizes and thus a better teacher-to-pupil ratio and so less problems in classrooms and better relationships, they're simply amalgamating schools, and closing others down altogether.