Both the Guardian and BBC News are currently carrying stories about the Government’s plans to cut funds for UK students who are looking to study a second degree at the same or lower level as their existing qualifications. So for example, if I wanted to go back to university and do a BA in Ancient History (which is something I’d like to do at some point, though obviously not for the next few years), I’d have to pay the full cost rather than having my education subsidised by the tax payer.
This proposal is ridiculous for several reasons. First of all, it will seriously damage opportunities for people who want to take a different course in order to change careers, either because they want to or because circumstances require them to (e.g. someone who did a degree in physical education and then has an accident which prevents them from using the skills they obtained). It also creates a financial barrier to people looking to return to education, but then we know already that Labour isn’t shy of erecting such barriers – after all they introduced tuition and top-up fees. Finally, the proposal will disproportionately damage institutions such as the Open University, which expects to lose approximately £30m of its teaching budget as a result.
Thankfully, the Conservatives have got some sense for once and are putting forward a motion to try and stop this stupid proposal, and there will be a half-day debate in the Commons today about the issue. Hopefully common sense will prevail and the Government will be forced to rethink the proposal as a result (or abandon it altogether, which I would prefer).