'Heading up the new Independent Student Finance Taskforce' blog discussion

Former_MSE_Lee Posts: 343 Forumite
This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.

Please click 'post reply' to discuss below.


  • rde
    rde Posts: 67 Forumite

    I can see your reasonings for joining the group, but you are getting involved in a very unpopular concept. I am a graduate, from when the old grants system was around. I did a five year veterinary medicine course, graduating 25 years ago. We were told in final year that it had cost £40,000 to put each of us through college. So in last 25 years I will have needed to pay under £2000 a year in extra tax to repay that money spent on me. I reckon I've done that, and I will be working for another 12 years at least. If student loans were around then, I would have paid the extra tax AND the loan back. Unfair or what! No wonder people are thinking twice about taking these kinds of courses. Despite what you are saying, I would have. In my first few years post graduating finances were tight enough as it was.

    The government have drawn you in to give the whole system some credibility. By getting involved you are giving it your blessing.

    Just my twopenny worth.
  • Rafter
    Rafter Posts: 3,850
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker

    I wholeheartedly support your heading up the new taskforce.

    As you clearly state there is not a lot that can be done to stop the principle that if you voluntarily go to university then you should pay back the benefits rather than that cost being borne by general taxation.

    Sure, those who have gone before benefited from grants and 'free' higher education but that doesn't necessarily mean that that system was fair on those who never went to university and ended up paying for those who do.

    I'd also suggest that when I went to university in the early 90's a number of students were there to have a great time rather than study and some lecturers were lazy and complacent. If I'd being 'paying' for the education maybe I would have made more of a fuss about the service I was getting.

    We are going to have to make some really tough choices in the next few years about public spending and having balanced and objective information is going to be really important. Having credible spokespeople like you to prevent either the politicians or press from spreading populist but incorrect information can only be a good thing.

    Smile :), it makes people wonder what you have been up to.
  • I have to agree with RDE on all counts. The coalition are pushing their agendas and the bankers who are all well versed in maths go it badly wrong by not being reigned back.

    I think the government have got it wrong here too. If there is no work then education is the place to be to learn new skills. What is needed is a range of courses which starts with bringing back apprenticeships, vocational and academic. yes there are some wierd and wobbly courses around but there should be some mechanisim to get them shelved. this fee rise hike reduces the competitiveness of the british people against the european who have access to free education. This is not fair competition and if it was an industry the CEOs would not have any of it. It should not be about penalising the uk population and keeping higher education for the elite.

    I agree with rafter about standards etc and would also add there is always someone paying for someone else eg childless paying for schools and whatever other support there is or those paying council tax paying for someone housing. by sharing the pot we help our society it wouldnt be much if we didnt.

    and whatever you say martin you are still encouraging debt. I am disappointed. If you want to take up a challenge what about the widening gap between rich and poor.
  • hcf502
    hcf502 Posts: 12 Forumite
    Having just graduated as a mature student I was a little bit more savvy than a lot of my classmates when it came to finance etc due to a previous life in the grown up world, but I would just like to flag up that student finance England who I used to deal with is an appallingly badly organised operation and makes it even more difficult for students to be savvy with their money. It is often well nigh impossible to fathom their communications with students in paper or verbally and when clarification is required it is so so difficult to actually get through to anyone via phone or email to help. Plus the people on the end of the phone are usually very unhelpful and seem to treat students as some sort of rodent who deserve to be reprimanded for asking the question rather than helped.

    During my three years I constantly recieved contradictory documents telling me that I was or wasn't entitled to money I had already recieved or that next year I was entitled to nothing, then everything, then nothing etc etc.

    There was even one student in my year who came from a single parent family from an ethnic minority background and was given a place on lower entry grades than others becuase of their family circumstances etc and was provided with a maximum loan and grant etc. They only attended some lectures in the first year but worked full time instead in second and third years and used the loan money etc to supplement their income which is a bit rich - surely this money is given to people to help them study? Not work full time and supplement their income?

    I also think that perhaps there ought to be an incentive to encourage students to achieve higher results linked to their payback agreements. E.g. students who recieve a 1st get a lower interest rate or get a certain amount of their loan written off depending on final results, students who get a 2:1 get a bit less written off or slightly higher interest etc etc. This may encourage them to actually study at uni instead of just drink their loans and grants away or indeed work full time!!!???
  • Rafter
    Rafter Posts: 3,850
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker

    Agree with your principles, but unfortunately we don't seem to be able to afford to offer free healthcare, free education including university and a decent social security net without going bust as a country.

    Why? Because in the 'global' market, the tax we would have to charge would mean that companies and the most capable people (including doctors and teachers) would simply move to a country with a lower tax rate and without those 'free' benefits in order to pay lower tax.

    You also have to decide whether government debt (funding free university places to be paid for from general tax in future) is worse that student loans which will only be paid back if that student benefits from their higher education and earns a decent wage.

    Banks have already said that they won't treat student loans as debt when it comes to getting mortgages and part of Martin's job will presumably explaining to students that they should see student loans as an investment in their future.

    Personally I wish tax had been a bit higher in the last 10 years and government spending a bit lower so we weren't in this dreadful mess, but carrying on as we are just isn't an option and I think everyone whether they are students, workers or pensioners are going to have to share the pain of our previous excesses.

    Smile :), it makes people wonder what you have been up to.
  • thats all right then - lets pay for the banks mistakes and they can keep all their bonus money and we will bail out the other Euro economies lest we go down with them.

    university has not been free for sometime and what I am rejecting is triplicating the fees because the banks over stretched themselves and dont seem to have any consequences (unlike other businesses) when they make bad decision. I like many did not live excessively, so why should pensioners and those who were responsible take the punishment?

    if people want to go to another country with less tax then let them...... People living here should pay taxes and not avoid them with accountants. People with money have the government over a barrel so the only way the government can squeeze money is through the middle and working classes.

    I despair with Nick Cleggs recent bright idea to distribute shares to the general public - that would be a nightmare to administrate. Better to simply put it back in the pot and redistribute and lessen the cuts.

    Hcf02 has a good point linking grades - maybe make people think before they commit to a course.

    Anyway I think Martin should not have got involved with this as its political and he is suppose to be unbiased.
  • Martin, I can barely make you out now standing in the middle of a lot of fast moving traffic out there in the mist - if it is really you out there, are you absolutely sure it is sensible to have ventured so far?

    Since you are where you are, do us a favour before you scuttle safely back to this side - get plenty of gen and the full lowdown so when you set up a new forum section headed "Student Loan Company Misselling Claims" it'll be the next main event for all fair-minded family-oriented moneysavers and their offspring.

    There are plenty enough now of enterprising MSE minds who could give a new forum like that some traction if you provide the proper heading instead of all this flailing about in the middle of the road in numerous patches of what has fast become an unprecedented dense blog.
  • So Martin, does this mean you the new "Students' Champion" that I think I heard Agent W mention a few minutes ago in the Commons?
  • Hi, can someone please help me. I'm literally at the end of my tether! My 19 year old daughter started uni last year. I'm a single parent with an 11 year old at home. I'm a nurse, work full-time and have never claimed a penny off the government. I am solely financially responsible for my student daughter, earn under £30000 per year so she should qualify for the grant. I bought a house with my 69 year old mother who still works part-time as she likes to pay some of her way. I pay the mortgage and bills, etc. Because my mom still works and gets approximately £65 per week, we both have to pay council tax. Student finance use council tax benefit as their standard for proving a parent is single and solely financially responsible.
    I have spent so long trying to get round this and I'm desperate to get this grant for my daughter as I'm now applying for yet another loan just to pay her rent. Please, can someone help me? I spend nights awake worrying about this.
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