January 19, 2004

Hiring Mercenary MPs

Tony Blair is going to push top-up fees for English universities through Parliament next week. There are many rebel MPs on the Labour Party backbenchers, but Tony will successfully squeeze the legislation out of the Commons. He has enough Scottish MPs to help him.

Let me make this crystal clear: the top-up fees affect English universities -- not British universities -- English universities. The funding of Scottish education at all levels is the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament. But Scottish MPs sitting in Westminster will provide the majority Tony, even though their constituencies are not affected.

Posted by david at January 19, 2004 10:33 PM | TrackBack

Being but one of many lowly, ignorant Yanks, it might be a wee bit helpful if you'd somehow let us know what top-up fees are. Just curious what's going on over there, and lots of such concepts are... foreign.

Posted by: G Froehle at January 21, 2004 11:53 PM

University tuition fees, in and of themselves a novel concept on this side of the Atlantic, are the same regardless of the university attended. Top-up fees do just that - top up the tuition fees. They will be charged by universities based which feel they need more money to meet their budgets.

The Government is setting a maximum level for the fees, which it is anticipated will immediately be charged by the most sought after universities. The initial maximum amount for top-up fees will be 3000 per year. Because of the need for money, the number of unis that eventually charge the maximum is expected to increase rapidly until it is charged across the board.

The issue here is not the philosophical issue of whether the State or the individual should pay for education. It is that the Labour Government won election on a manifesto (platform) promise that they would not charge tuition fees, not to mention top-up fees, and they have introduced both.

If you have read my biographical information, you will know that I am an American ex-pat. Though it is used daily with reference to me by colleagues, as a Southerner I cannot bring myself to use the term "Yank".

Posted by: David Holford at January 22, 2004 12:13 AM