National student body blasts the think tank’s proposal to make graduates pay a levy on their future income rather than student loans.
The National Union of Students (NUS) attacks proposals made by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) for “mainly benefiting richer students.”
The free-market think tank has published a report claiming many students will never have sufficient earnings to pay back their student loans in full. IEA suggests a new system be put in place, having graduates pay their university tuition as a proportion of their future income.
Philip Booth, Editorial and Programme Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:
“The current system of student finance will fail. It combines all the worst features of a graduate tax and a student loan system and gives little incentive for universities or students to succeed.
“The proposals laid out in this report will free universities from stifling regulation, and ensure that they offer students more variety in the duration of courses and give greater consideration to the future success of their students.”
The NUS agrees that the current tuition fee system is flawed and that forcing debt on students as a way of funding universities was a failed experiment. Megan Dunn, NUS vice president (higher education), said:
“It is good to see that this report further discredits the current student loan model, but it offers a substandard alternative. These proposals will only really benefit richer students, who can pay up-front fees and protect their future income, or those who could ‘buy themselves out’ of future repayments. It also dangerously suggests that the time spent on widening participation would not be needed if this scheme was to be introduced. This suggestion is ludicrous, especially as we know that tuition fees are not the only, or even the most important, factor in access to higher education.
“We have now got opinion from both ends of the political spectrum agreeing that the current student loans system is unsustainable. In the run up to a general election, all parties should be listening and should realise that forcing debt onto students as a way of funding universities is an experiment that has failed our country.
“If higher education funding is to be fair and sustainable, we need to do away with this discredited model of fees and debt and offer a new deal for the next generation of students.”