Thursday, February 15, 2007

So what's the Top-Up Fees Damage?

Interesting article on the impact of top-up fees in today's Telegraph. It seems that there are record numbers of applications for entry onto undergraduate courses in 2007 - up 6.4% on 2006. Figures were even up on 2005, which was artificially high because students were opting to skip their gap year to start their courses before top-up fees came in. So much for the dire warnings that students would be put off university education by top-up fees!

Even more surprising is the provisional data from Ucas which show that the proportion of students from lower socio economic groups in England has risen from 30.9% to 31.3%. I realise that a system of means tested maintainance grants were brought in at the same time - but still! So much for top-up fees deterring students from poorer families!

I'm not sure exactly what these figures mean - but they do need some explanation. At first reading, it certainly looks as though top-up fees have had no deterence effect at all. It'll be interesting to see how those who have been implacably opposed to top-up fees will be able to interpret these figures to show that top-up fees have been damaging! Perhaps the figures are just wrong?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

And how did you vote on this in the Assembly, Glyn?

Glyn Davies AM said...

Unless there is a free vote, I vote as my whip instructs. My Party opposed the introduction of top-up fees in Wales.

In any case, all I do is pose the question.

Glyn Davies AM said...

And I have to admit anon, that I have slightly edited my post after noting your comment

lads said...

The point that worries me Glyn is not that likely students will be deterred now - the evidence I have is that the extra on the Student loan seems a rather distant worry before you start your undergraduate course or even in your first year.
The problems will emerge I suspect when this crop of students graduate and have to begin the repayments simultaneously thinking about saving for a deposit on the first flat or house, health insurance, pension contributions etc, etc. Not all graduates go straight into really well paid jobs!

Glyn Davies AM said...

The long term debt position of graduates has always been the major objection to education fees, in my opinion. Its all part of the undermining of financial responsibility, as deby becomes the norm. However, students are not daft, and I suspect most of them have taken their decision with eyes open.
The basic problem is that Gordon Brown is now taking so much of our discretionary spend that graduates will not be able to handle education debt, housing costs and pension set-aside. The big loser will be private pensions - which Brown has, almost single-handedly destroyed.
The long term consequences of the Brown years will be a fractured society, totally dependent on the state. He really is the most over-rated British politician of recent years.

David Thomas said...

The statistic is based on a % increase of applications from one year to the next not on the % of pupils applying. If there are more pupils in a year (as I believe there are this year) then the rate of applications could be the same but the percentage will show an increase on the previous year.

Glyn Davies AM said...

A good point David, after I worked out what you were saying! But I cannot believe that any increase in total student numbers can be enough to be the answer. But I will try to find out what the relevent total numbers are. I am genuinely interested in these figures and what they mean

David Thomas said...

I've had problems getting hold of school leaver figures this year compared with last. The Guardian states today, however, that by 2017 there will be 500,000 fewer school leavers than this year and it's easy enough to trace the trend of the total population on the 2001 census graph. I beieve we are still on the upward curve at the moment though and, it must be remembered, if more people are staying on in 16+ education the number of school leavers at 18 could increase (and so increase the % going to HE) even though the total number of 18 year olds could be decreasing! Lies, damn lies and statistics eh!