The leaders’ debate the other night saw Tavish Scott, Iain Gray and the First Minister in agreement that Scottish education would remain free at tertiary level.
That’s good, and indeed it indicates that unless the parties do a massive U-turn along the lines of Nick Clegg and his bunch of chancers in England, education will remain free in this country.
We heard from the Tories that it is wrong for people who will earn more because of their degrees, to be subsidised by those who will earn less because they have no degrees. That presupposes that people always earn more when they have a degree but I can think of several organisations where under the average wage is the norm and degrees are a prerequisite of the job. It's true too that we ALL benefit from having a well educated, and appropriately educated workforce.
I think Tavish made a good point about there being alternatives to university. Not everyone, and not every job, requires a degree. Many jobs require technical and craft skills that can be obtained on courses at technical or commercial colleges although these too must be funded.
We need somehow to get away from the notion that the only jobs worthy of respect are those which require university degrees. It’s just not true, as you might reflect when your central heating goes on the blink, your car won’t start, your pipes are frozen or your computer goes BANG!.
And it should be remembered that a good plumber can earn an awful lot more than a teacher or social worker...and why not? There are many good jobs which pay excellent money and don’t need a university education.
Perhaps reflecting on whether or not it is necessary to take degrees in sports science or horse psychology, pop music or hairdressing management, cruise management, circus skills or surf science... all of which can be taken at universities in the UK is something that our funders might want to consider.
Surely all these courses could be covered at HNC/D level or as SVQs (NVQs in England)?
It’s estimated that now virtually every university in England and Wales will charge over the £6,000 which Cameron promised would be the norm, with many of them opting for the £9,000 without having shown a valid reason for it. In the meantime the salaries and costs of the management will doubtless continue to rise.
The government in London will be obliged to find a great deal more money, probably around a billion a year, to fund these costs up front, with their degree having cost some students nearly £90,000 by the time they make the last payment (The Independent).
Now that is a situation to be very much avoided. Why does the London government not think out their policies before putting them into practice?