Paying for University Education

When I (hopefully) graduate I will owe the Government about £20,000 in loan repayments. That’s a lot. Tomorrow a report is due to be delivered to the Government which is expected to recommend the removal of the current £3,300 odd tuition fee loan cap. It has been suggested that may see University tuition fees rise to around £7,000 a year.

In comparison with countries such as the United States the British system is cheap but I don’t think landing graduates with a huge sum of debt is the right way to go about funding the higher education system.

The Lib Dems played with the idea of a ‘graduate tax’ which would see those who received the benefit of a free University education (so not me) pay a higher rate of income tax for the rest of their lives. If the University system is working then surely graduates will pay back far more tax anyway from the greater wages they can command (provided the graduates aren’t all working in call centres).  I think the problem is that the previous government wanted more people to go to University than was and is necessary which has led to the creation of degree courses in downright ridiculous subjects (pdf).

Foreign students already pay higher fees and make up an increasing proportion of students at UK Universities, I imagine because of the larger fees they are willing to pay. The amount Universities receive in fees from students is less than 30% of their total income.

The repayments for student loans are currently 9% of all income earned over £1,250 a month. On average UK salary (£25,428 a year) on a £20,000 loan at current rates of interest it will take 16 years to pay off.  16 years in which I imagine most graduates will want to buy a house.

Is my degree is value for money? Impossible to tell until I’ve got it and a job but I am pretty confident it will give me much greater opportunities than most other subject choices.

Photo: Stephen Boisvert (cc)

Results of the Lib Dems Negative Campaigning

Results of the Conservatives campaigning:  +5.3% gain.  From third place to taking the seat.
Results of the Liberal Democrats negative campaigning: +1.1% gain. Remain in second place.  Oh and the “can’t win here” Conservatives won.  Here.

A standard A4 sheet made from 80 grams/m² paper weighs 5 grams. I counted the equivalent of 14 A4 sized pieces of paper being delivered by the Lib Dems in Watford whilst I have been there (either addressed to me or not addressed to any particular member of the household). That’s 70 grammes.

Based on one person per house (in reality some of the literature was received in our house multiple times as it was addressed to each voter in the household) the paper usage comes out at:
(55,208 / 68.3) * 100 * (70 grams) = 5,658.21376 kilograms
(I couldn’t find the registered number of voters in the constituency anywhere so I calculated the total potential voters figure – 80,831.6 – from the BBC total votes and percentage turnout figures)

That’s 5.65 metric tonnes of paper or 1,131,64.75 pieces A4 paper delivered across Watford.

Also worth noting that these figures exclude leaflets/letters that arrived before I came back for Easter or after I left to go back to University.  I wonder how this compares to the local paper’s usage throughout the year, just a fraction of it I suspect.

Lib Dem’s Negative Campaigning Will Win Here!

A long overdue update to the Election Campaigning count.

First a quick recap on the previous scores:

  • Selly Oak: Lib 2, Lab 2
  • Watford: Con 3, Lib 2

Understandably there has been a huge increase as the election gets nearer and the pile is now so big I have been forced to get counting. Lack of hospital sign photos (obviously not fashionable this year) has meant a slight change in rules – I will now award points for all photos in an identifiable hospital location.

Few more pointers:

  • All photos of Gordon Brown in the Libs/Con promo!
  • Lib Dems have by far the most negative campaign
  • I especially enjoyed the news article style “Green party out of the race in Watford constituency” from the Lib Dems

New Watford scores:

  1. Liberal Democrats – 43
  2. Conservatives – 8
  3. British National Party – 4
  4. Labour – 1

Third Leaders’ Debate

Rainy earlier this afternoon when after a revision lecture I decided to have a little look around the commotion on campus ahead of tonight’s Prime Ministers debate on the BBC.

Top marks to the University for getting red, blue and yellow Hydrogen cars on show.  After spotting various presenters (Huw Edwards, Adam Boulton and Dermot Murnaghan apparently moonlighting at Sky)  and watching the Sky news presenter read her autocue for a bit we walked over to the Labour Party bus only for Peter Mandleson to appear out of the red hydrogen car.  We followed him, his entourage, the press and wet students until he went inside the security cordon.

Earlier in the day almost got run over by what I now know to be a Labour campaign poster, amusingly at lunch the same mobile ad firm drove past The Goose pub with politically disguised adverts for an upcoming A-Team film.

Loads of police/press/fences everywhere on campus.  Might go over and have another look after dinner.

Didn't realise this was meant to be promoting Brown until later...
Mandleson is in there. Honest

Nick Petrie/Redbrick

Liberals First to Score

The Lib Dems are the first to score in my election campaigning game as Selly Oak News arrived through my letter box this morning whilst I was restocking on milk, orange juice and fake Kellogg’s rice krispie squares (that aren’t even square, but that is another story) at Aldi.

Surprisingly this promotional literature (+1) does not appear to be too in your face about the general election instead focusing on the past work of local councillors one of whom, David Radcliffe, is the PPC and is featured on the front page. Recycling is mentioned but there is no photo (boo, hiss!). In fact Radcliffe isn’t featured next to any of the people/items for which points are awarded and the entire A2 sized ‘newspaper’ remains a Nick Clegg free zone.

The back page features a nice graph (presumably from last years local elections) showing that “The Conservatives can’t win here” (+1). This reminded me of a time that one particular party back home (can’t remember which) got in trouble for producing a similar graphic which was not to scale so showing a party in a poor third place when in fact they were much closer. The title of the bar chart is “It’s so close here” but with 674 votes between Labour and the Liberals this annoys me. “So close” is more like 3 votes.

They do have a nice photo of a facepalm Gordon Brown though. I’m almost tempted to give them a bonus point for that. Almost.

Points awarded:  2