Under the current system:
If you’re starting a full-time higher education course, the main types of financial help you may be able to get are:
- a Maintenance Grant or Special Support Grant – worth up to £2,906
- a Tuition Fee Loan to cover your fees in full (up to £3,290 for 2010/11 or £3,225 for 2009/10)
- a Maintenance Loan – worth up to £4,950 if you live away from home, or more if you study in London (although the maximum you can get is reduced if you’re getting help through the Maintenance Grant)
- a bursary from your university or college
All the loans you take out to cover your fees/living costs/whatever then get paid back out of your wages as you earn over £15,000 per year.
I fail to see how paying these fees back as you earn is any different to simply paying no fees at all, and then paying a “Graduate Tax” as you earn. Back to Dr Cable:
Mr Cable [sic – he is a doctor, isn’t he? With a PhD and everything?] said that by linking the graduate repayment mechanism to earnings, it may be possible to establish a system where low earners would pay the same or less than they do now, and high earners would pay more.
He earlier told the BBC that under the current system, “if you’re a school teacher or a youth worker you pay the same amount as if you were a surgeon or a highly-paid commercial lawyer”.
“I think most people would think that’s unfair,” he said.
In which case, why don’t we just increase the rate that people on higher incomes pay their student loan back? Voila! Problem solved. No need to tinker with the system, and certainly no need to raise fees.