Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Sunday 26 September 2010

Wielding the Knife and Fork

It's no secret that cuts for Universities were in the offing, but the grim reality presents itself this morning in a Sunday Times article headed 'Tuition fees will rise to £10,000'.

As usual, the headline grossly over-simplifies (there are proposals to remove the fees cap and increase the costs of student loans) but what it boils down to in effect, for us at least, is the prospect of the Urchin leaving university with far higher debts than his older brother.

Since both have chosen similar degree courses and are likely to aim for the same kind of employment, where does this leave us as parents? Can we really stand by and see one of our children lumbered with a lifelong debt while the other one clears his within a few years?

And, even if we could help reduce the Urchin's debt, would it be it fair to his older brother to do so?

It looks as if Browne's Fork* is going to be accompanied by a wooden spoon stirring up sibling rivalry of epic proportions.

*Remember Henry VII and Morton's Fork? Browne's Fork goes like this: 'if you went to a state school, you have paid nothing so far for your education so it's reasonable to ask you to meet the full costs' or 'if you went to a fee-paying school, you obviously have enough money to meet your tuition fees in full'.


  1. It's a mess, all right. Perhaps it's time wider use was made of employer-paid apprenticeships for prospective employees. I think they have some of those sort of 'sponsorship' deals in the US, don't they? Based on the sports-style model?

  2. There are several large edifices in UK High Street in a state of imminent collapse. One is the old Tech, now an overblown university. Another is the Town Hall, its foundations damaged by underground quangoes. Another is the police HQ under the weight of all the extra policeman pulled off the street to man all the surveillnace equipment. And so and so on. Add your own to taste.

  3. JuliaM, I agree. The best way might be to provide some incentive (via tax, perhaps) for firms to do this.

    After all, it seems to work for the RAF - competition for their student sponsorship is fierce and ensures high-calibre recruits.

    Demetrius, too true! It's become a cliche to compare our society to Imperial Rome, but I'm sure your comment - or something like it - could have been made by its citizens, particularly under the later emperors.

    The question is whether it is better to continue propping up the decaying, overloaded structures or to pull them down and start again.


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