Wednesday, 12 May 2010

New Era

Yesterday saw the scramble to form a coalition government come to an end, and an end to Labour's 13 year run in power. I can't quite believe it all happened in one day, but there you go. 
This has been an interesting and unusual election, and we're effectively stepping into the unknown, from a political point of view. 
Surprisingly, the Conservatives have compromised on many of their policies in order to get Lib Dems on side, and this morning we woke up to the news that Clegg is deputy PM and there are 5 Lib Dems in the Cabinet. But what we're interested in here is education, and that is still an issue that is going to be a topic of debate. Both parties have admitted that there will have to be huge cuts in order to reduce the deficit and public debt, although we have been promised that these cuts will not come from 'frontline services', such as the NHS. It's unclear if higher education counts as a frontline service, but we feel that cuts in this area are inevitable, and will follow on from the trend in spending cuts that we've witnessed at our time in University.

Hopefully in the next few days we will find out who has been appointed in charge of education, and we're hoping that a more detailed version of the new government's main aims and intentions will be published shortly so we can know the fate of future students. All we do know for now is that in the run up to the election, the Conservatives were in favour of taking the cap off tuition fees, but the Lib Dems were in favour of scrapping them all together. Hopefully in the next few weeks we will find out if either party has had to compromise on this issue. 

Monday, 3 May 2010

UK Tuition Fees

We've all been interested in the financial side of education here and in the states, and it was one of the main themes of the project initially. In the UK, the whole higher education system is about to go through some serious overhauls in terms of funding. So far, we've all felt the effects of drastic budget cuts to universities and to the arts in particular. Whoever wins the general election this week will be looking to address university funding. An official review that's been going on for some time now is due to finish soon, and whoever our new Prime Minister and other relevant MPs are will take this report as the basis for their decision on funding. At the moment it looks like the cap on tuition fees (currently at £3325) will be gone, meaning that universities can charge what they like. It's the first step in privatising the university education system, making it something more akin to the American system now. 
I personally don't think that having an elitist system right, but I do acknowledge that funding has to change somehow, and if students are the only way to offset budget cuts then so be it. Either way, it's a time of considerable change right now, which means that our project could not have come at a better time. 
For a very informative article (and comments) on the issue from the Times, click here