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An interview with… NUS President, Aaron Porter

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photo: NUS

Next week I’m working with yoosk and The Vibe to film parallel interviews with NUS President, Aaron Porter and Minister for Universities, David Willets MP. This note refers specifically to the interview with Aaron Porter – @AaronPorter.

As always, I’m interested to know what you think to all of this? So we can make a legitimate claim to ask questions that serve the public interest, please feel free to add your thoughts and feelings to the discussion on this note. The goal of this is to promote a rational, educational and rather interesting discussion of a hugely important issue.

A summary of Aaron Porter’s stance on university fees
Porter argues that the proposed changes to university fees will lead to only the richest students being able to choose where to study, and the most prestigious universities becoming too expensive for the poor.

His preferred outcome to the Higher Education Funding dispute is to replace tuition fees with a graduate tax – a tax which would be levied on graduates for 20 years following their graduation, ranging from 0.3% to 2.5% of their income.

Vince Cable however describes such a tax as “superficially attractive, this additional tax on graduates would fail both the tests of fairness and deficit reduction.” If a graduate tax were introduced, where would the money come from to fund universities until these taxes start being paid in?

Under the current system, fees are capped at £3,290, interest rates on loans are relatively low at 1.5% and repayments only start when graduates start earning over £15,000. Following Lord Browne’s review on Higher Education Funding, fees may be allowed to double to £7,000 and the interest on loans will be dependent on future earnings – in other words, if you earn more, you pay more. (This link takes you to a nice piece by The Telegraph that summarises the main arguments in the review.)

According to his blog, Porter fears that these increase may mean many students leaving university with £40k worth of debt.

Other interesting issues

EMA – which provides college students whose household income is less than £20, 817 with £30 a week to cover the cost of travel and books – is also about to be scrapped by the government. Is this justified or are the government passing even more hardship and debt on to younger generations?

The NUS and UCU (Universities and Colleges Union) have organised a national demo for 10th Nov. Is taking to the streets and occupying universities buildings the best way for students to voice their objections?


Written by Robert Dale

October 28, 2010 at 9:18 am

Posted in interview

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