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/ Failing Universities will close?

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Offwidth - on 26 Nov 2018

.... so said the government and the Office for Students (OfS),

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/nov/06/failing-universities-bailouts-michael-barber-office-for-students

...unless of course the OfS really really really like you....

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/nov/16/english-university-given-900k-emergency-loan-by-regulator

Quite a few at risk institutions are maybe also going to be bailed out according to Moodys:

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/nov/23/government-universities-oxford-cambridge-moodys

Not mentioned in that article are institutions that seem OK at the moment but are making ambitious high risk investments assuming growth...in my view especially some post 92s doing well in arguably the least reliable league tables: TEF and Guardian... that are strongly based on the National Student Survey... as the RSS point out ssuch surveys have no correlation at all with quality, except an anticorrelation in some difficult subjects.

http://www.rss.org.uk/Images/PDF/influencing-change/2018/RSS-Evidence-Dept-Education-Teaching-Excellence-Framework_final-21May-2018.pdf

Pursued by a bear - on 26 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

There are a number of institutions that can be known as 'The once and future polytechnic of . . .'.  Which isn't to say that all such institutions are doomed to fail; a number of past polytechnics are doing very well, just as a number of universities founded as such will fail.  The divide between places that support top-class research and teaching and those for whom the primary function and revenue earner is teaching has been becoming established over the past years, it just needs formalising and a bit of pruning is then inevitable.

Just my £0.02 . . .

T.

Offwidth - on 26 Nov 2018
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

The University in the headline is a 'small modern institution'. If closures are possible, wilth all the terrible consequencies for their students and staff don't you think it should be on a clear and equitable basis with pre-defined damage reduction? Students are building debts of 40k+ and I think deserve better than a risk of closure that isn't at all clear when they apply. Staff didn't sign up to these market ideas and deserve better. The public deserve better than to see huge building, human and equipment investments just squandered.

Post edited at 12:58
Coel Hellier - on 26 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

How many universities does the UK need?  I'd put it at about 80.

[We also need local technical colleges.]

fred99 - on 26 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> How many universities does the UK need?  I'd put it at about 80.

> [We also need local technical colleges.]


I'm reminded of an episode of Yes prime Minister, where Sir Humphrey agrees that Universities have to be looked after - "both of them".

MG - on 26 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> How many universities does the UK need?  I'd put it at about 80.

Why not 70. Or 100. That has the feel of a number plucked out of thin air. 

 

Post edited at 13:25
summo on 26 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> How many universities does the UK need?  I'd put it at about 80.

> [We also need local technical colleges.]

And perhaps restore investment in the OU as many of the attendees are working tax payers at the same time as studying etc... 

neilh - on 26 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

As my daughter went to number 91 on the list, graduated and then got her first job earning close on £40k a year on a graduate training scheme,( from Jan she moves from graduate scheme to a dedicated role) I think there is a bit of elitism snobbery in some of these comments.

 

wintertree - on 26 Nov 2018
In reply to neilh:

> As my daughter went to number 91 on the list, graduated and then got her first job earning close on £40k a year on a graduate training scheme,( from Jan she moves from graduate scheme to a dedicated role) I think there is a bit of elitism snobbery in some of these comments.

You see, she should have gone to one from the top ten, then done a masters, then a PhD, then slogged her guts out as a researcher for 8 years, then she might get appointed to a post where after a few years she’ll be earning £40k.  Isn’t that better?

 

Coel Hellier - on 26 Nov 2018
In reply to neilh:

> then got her first job earning close on £40k a year on a graduate training scheme

But many employers are demanding graduate entry into jobs simply because they can, because there are so many graduates these days, not because a degree is actually required. 

It's very unclear that this is in the interests of the students (who take on large debt) or of society in general.   Interesting reading:

slatestarcodex.com/2015/06/06/against-tulip-subsidies/

https://quillette.com/2018/11/23/the-case-for-dropping-out-of-college/

 

Philip on 26 Nov 2018
In reply to fred99:

> I'm reminded of an episode of Yes prime Minister, where Sir Humphrey agrees that Universities have to be looked after - "both of them".

Which is the second one?

neilh - on 26 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Times have changed

 

 

neilh - on 26 Nov 2018
In reply to wintertree:

But of course...!

Qwertilot - on 26 Nov 2018
In reply to Philip:

> Which is the second one?

Depends which one comes first ;)

Not that there's the slightest danger of either getting into trouble given their enormous historical endowments.

stevieb - on 26 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> How many universities does the UK need?

  I don’t know how many the UK needs, but I do wonder why around 40 universities and 400 000 students are in London. 

Maybe it’s better for local students, or more appealing for foreign (and UK) students, but it seems daft to add so many people to an already overheated city. 

 

Post edited at 14:27
Offwidth - on 26 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Well if you look at graduate demand, strategic needs, cost efficiency, locations and added value, going on your number it probably needs to lose 40 from the  middle with other better local providers on those criteria. That means your institution has a high chance of going ;  happy now ?;-)

I think any closures need proper planning and funding (with student guarantees) to take on responsibilities, the best estate, facility and staff.

We have plenty of technical colleges already: what we need in this area is properly funded high quality technical education rather than the current poorly funded and lowest common denominator EDEXCEL mess. We also need a culture change, or planeed immigration,  as there are not enough prospective students in the UK good enough to fill such. 

Post edited at 14:46
Dave B on 26 Nov 2018
In reply to Philip:

Hull, ISTR, according to one of the characters in Blackadder

Offwidth - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to Dave B:

A really interesting breakdown in the link below on the money in one University, with the ratuer shocking figure that only 39% of fee income is going to academic staff, course equipment and staff related costs !

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-46289373

The minister was on the BBC news again this am talking b*llocks about University 'markets' that still don't really exist.

Its because of a new report from the IFS

https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/13731

Response form the Universities organisation

https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/news/Pages/New-IFS-report-on-graduate-earnings-by-degree-course.aspx

 

Post edited at 08:35
Offwidth - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

The main IFS findings

IFS summary: The impact of undergraduate degrees on early-career earnings

This report uses the new Longitudinal Educational Outcomes (LEO) administrative dataset to provide the latest estimates of the impact of Higher Education (HE) on individuals’ early-career earnings after accounting for individuals’ pre-university characteristics. This will provide vital evidence for prospective students choosing whether, where and what to study at university.

We estimate the overall average impact of attending HE on earnings at age 29, and show how this varies for individuals studying different degree subjects or at different Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), based on those who went to HE in the mid- to late-2000s. We also investigate how these returns might differ for students with different prior attainment, based on their GCSE results and whether or not they studied a maths or science (‘STEM’) A-level. We focus on those who start HE, rather than just on HE graduates, as this is the relevant decision facing prospective students.

This is the second in a series of reports by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE), that makes use of the LEO dataset to improve information on the value of HE degrees. The dataset, developed in collaboration with the DfE, tracks English students through school, college, university and into the labour market. This report, for the first time, uses the dataset to compare individuals who went to HE to those with similar background characteristics who did not.

All of our estimates (unless otherwise stated) report the effect of attending HE at age 18 on annual gross earnings at age 29, conditional on being in “sustained employment”. We compare our HE students with those who did not go to HE but had at least five A*-C GCSEs, controlling for differences in prior attainment, Key Stage 5 subject choices and family background.

This pioneering dataset enables us to account for many of the differences between those who do and do not attend HE, but there are many other factors which may affect this decision that are not accounted for, such as passion or preferences. Also these estimates focus on the monetary returns to university, which may not fully reflect the wider society benefits of these degrees. As such, some caution should be executed when interpreting these findings.

Our main findings are as follows:

Those who attend HE earn a lot more on average than those who do not. At age 29 the average man who attended HE earns around 25% more than the average man (with five A*-C GCSEs) who did not. For women the gap is more than 50%.

A large portion of this difference can be explained by differences in pre-university characteristics: a typical HE student has higher prior attainment and is more likely to have come from a richer family than someone who does not attend. They would therefore be expected to earn more, even had they not gone to university.

Once we account for differences in pre-university characteristics, we estimate the average impact of attending HE on earnings at age 29 to be 26% for women and 6% for men. If we focus on the impact of graduating, these returns rise to 28% and 8% respectively.

The higher returns for women may be driven by the fact that women who attend HE typically work longer hours than those who do not. This impact on working hours may well be causal, but it may also be larger at age 29 than at later ages if graduates delay having children.

Continued....

Post edited at 08:46
Offwidth - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

IFS findings continued...

Importantly, age 29 is relatively early in an individuals’ career. There is strong evidence that the earnings of men who attend HE continue to grow faster than their non-HE counterparts after age 30. This is likely to result in the returns to HE for men being larger at later ages than we are able to estimate here. For women, the divergent trends in earnings by education type after age 30 are less clear.

Not all degrees are the same, and subject choice appears to be a very important determinant of returns. For men, studying creative arts, English or philosophy actually result in lower earnings on average at age 29 than people with similar background characteristics who did not go to HE at all. By contrast, studying medicine or economics appears to increase earnings by more than 20%. For women, there are no subjects that have negative average returns, and studying economics or medicine increases their age 29 earnings by around 60%.

Institution choice also appears to be highly important, as there is considerable variation in returns. For men, there are 12 institutions (accounting for 4% of male students) for which we estimate statistically significantly negative returns at age 29 on average, while there are 18 universities with average returns of more than 20%. For women, despite high returns on average, there are still two institutions (0.4% of female students) which have statistically significantly negative returns at age 29, while there are 66 institutions with returns of more than 20%.

We estimate that 67% of men and 99% of women (and hence 85% of students) attended universities that have significantly positive returns on average by age 29.

For both men and women, there is wide variation in returns within every subject and every institution. For example, studying at Cambridge yields positive returns of around 30% on average for both men and women, but some subject choices - for example creative arts - actually appear to result in lower earnings at age 29 than not going to university at all.

The returns to HE also differ considerably for different types of students (see table). Attending HE only increases the age 29 earnings of lower prior attainment men (based on GCSE grades) without a STEM A-level by 4%. This compares to 20% for their peers who also do not have a STEM A-level but have high GCSE grades. The return is low because students with lower prior attainment are more likely to take low-returning subjects like creative arts, communications and sport science, and are more likely to attend lower-returning universities.

However, this is not the only explanation: even when they study the same subject or at the same type of university as their peers who have higher prior attainment, they experience lower returns.This is a particularly important when considering the impacts of expansion in the HE system: in our period of study, 70% of all students with five A*-C GCSEs that did not attend university fell within this lower prior attainment, without STEM A-level group.

Men with higher prior attainment and a STEM A-level have an estimated return of 5%, which might be lower than expected. This is hugely varied: studying law, medicine or economics increases their earnings by around 20%, and the return to attending a Russell Group for this group is around 10%. On the other hand, studying arts English, communications, psychology, languages and history, or attending Post-1992 or Other universities actually appears to result in lower earnings for this group than they would have achieved had they not gone to university (of course, these individuals may be making these choices for reasons other than to try to maximise their earnings). These particular estimates should be treated with caution, as overall only 5% of individuals in this group do not go to HE, and they are likely to be quite unusual - indeed, they have very high average earnings of around £40,000 per year by age 29.

Among women, the overall returns to HE are high for all groups, though some similar patterns emerge. Higher prior attainment women without a STEM A-level have higher returns than their lower attainment peers. Unlike for men, there is little evidence of lower prior attainment women without a STEM A-level experiencing lower returns when studying the same subject as their higher attaining peers. Instead, the lower returns for this group appear to be driven by a higher propensity to study lower (although still significantly positive) returning subjects such as social care, sociology or education, and because they are more likely to attend lower-returning universities.

MG - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> A really interesting breakdown in the link below on the money in one University, with the ratuer shocking figure that only 39% of fee income is going to academic staff, course equipment and staff related costs !

Why is that shocking, bearing in mind another 36% goes on buildings, libraries, IT, sports, careers etc etc.  All things you would expect to find in universities.

Coel Hellier - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> " For men, studying creative arts, English or philosophy actually result in lower earnings on average at age 29 than people with similar background characteristics who did not go to HE at all."

This sort of thing needs highlighting to teenagers (and their families and schools).  (And politicians.)

Even where a degree does boost your career path and earnings, it is often *not* because what you've learned actually benefits and helps you, but simply because certain career paths are only open to those who have jumped the hoop.

Offwidth - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to MG:

Its shocking because a decade ago it used to be nearly 10% higher and students say their top prirority for spending is good teaching  staff. It seems teaching staff investment is bottom of the pile these days.

MG - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> Its shocking because a decade ago it used to be nearly 10% higher and students say their top prirority for spending is good teaching  staff. It seems teaching staff investment is bottom of the pile these days.

I'm pretty sure that if if sports, societies, buildings, IT etc were removed or downgraded students would be unimpressed.  There is also much greater investment in teaching and value attached to teaching than 10 years ago.

Offwidth - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

If money is what motivates those students.. Don't you think the students realise that already? Even as a proto-physicist at school, money was never even something I  thought much about (anywhere I might end up would be OK and higher paid work in the area looked the least interesting)

Currently Universities make a profit in lower cost courses and too often a loss on STEM. What the system needs is more UK wide planning, fairer balancing from government top-ups (they are too low in much of STEM), a few more bursary incentives to study in shortage areas (like they have in some teacher training areas) and better treatment of the disadvantaged.

Currently the regressive UK fee system hits lower paid professionals from poor family backgrounds the hardest (teachers, nurses social workers, etc) . If the government really believed in fairer market arrangements they would ensure no key subject disincentives (especially in STEM) , improve scholarships for the disadvantaged and subsidise shortage areas. The current system is horribly distorted in market terms (not that I support such ideas) and the Minister has the nerve to blame the Universities for problems of a system of his own government's making.

Offwidth - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to MG:

I can assure you there is not greater investment in teaching in the sector since 2008.  Overall staff costs have declined as a percentage of sector expenditure and there are increases in proportions of non teaching staff. In teaching there has been a steady drift to more ZHC style contracts  and a decline in teaching staff costs overall as pay fell below well below inflation since 2008. In contrast there has been a massive increase in building spend (often above income levels with risky debt fuelled methods like borrowing and bonds) and increased central admin spends and big increases in senior management pay (faster rises than inflation).

There has been an increased focus on teaching quality in the last decade but the big increase in admin for that is yet another burden (in time and cost) faced by teaching staff. The KPIs used to judge this teaching quality are often completly bogus, like NSS (back to my first post the RSS have shown there is zero evidence that  NSS like methods have any correlation at all with teaching quality); where the message is now obvious: keep students comfortable, don't stretch them intellectually and make them nervous.

No one is saying don't invest in infrastructure and central stafff, just that the balance has shifted too much away from teaching staff investment since 9k fees came in. The peverse TEF metrics add additional costs and workload to HE teaching with (from RSS research evidence) no big quality improvements likely (and according to RSS possible risks in a few intellectually tricky subjects where there was some evidence NSS like methods showed an anti correlation with quality).

Post edited at 11:02
Webster - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to neilh:

 I think there is a bit of elitism snobbery in some of these comments.

Yep, as it should be university is by definition elitist.

 

Coel Hellier - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> Don't you think the students realise that already?

I don't know, do they?   How many 17-yr-olds (and their parents) understand that many degrees at many universities will not make any difference to their career or how much they earn? 

MG - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> I can assure you there is not greater investment in teaching in the sector since 2008. 

> In teaching there has been a steady drift to more ZHC style contracts

That must depend where you work.  In the 3 institutions I have worked in in the last 10 years the opposite is very much the case.  Currently in my immediate group of ~18, 4 are teaching only contracts (full time, open-ended) up from zero ten years ago. The only vaguely ZHC contracts are for lab demonstrators and the like.

Offwidth - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to MG:

I'm talking sector wide figures. Individual institutions have a wide range of variation around this.

On ZHC/part-time/demonstrator hourly style contacts you need to see management data: STEM departments are big and complex and  there is often a lot of use in labs, seminar assistance, projects, sickness cover etc., that full-time  team members could easily be unaware of. Some places who only have good contract practice still can have a lot of hourly staff that students would prefer to be more avialable full time staff (hourly staff often end up working for free dealing with outside class questions etc). It can be done more fairly at not much extra cost... I started in HE on a CNNA style fixed term RAD contact (6 hous a week class contact and PhD enrolled).

Post edited at 11:46
Offwidth - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

You answer my question first: where is the evidence most older school kids looking to study a degree see future pay as a priority over preferred subject. Very few did in my day and those that did certainly knew the best degrees and professions to chase anecdotally (and were mostly right in that); even use of accurate current pay data has to be thought about as its a historical position that may not be true in the future (as many current graduate lawyers have found). Subjects like medicine will always be a safe income bet but hard work to get there.

Offwidth - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to Webster:

Elitist in what way though? The vast majority of rich kids have been going to  University for decades, yet there is no indication intellect  is that warped in the parental income profile (so those of just below average intelligence in that group can clearly gain a lot and plenty of very bright disadvantaged kids are clearly missing out). Most western economies have a higher percentage of their population than England going into HE, nearly all over 50%. 

neilh - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Do you not think that most parents ( and also  politicians)know and do this as a matter of course ( with the odd exception). But teenagers are well teenagers....young and optimistic, the world is your oyster.

I totally ignored what my parents and so called career advisers ( and others said) etc said and I bet most posters on here did the same( including yourself).

Post edited at 12:03
Coel Hellier - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to neilh:

> Do you not think that most parents ( and also  politicians)know and do this as a matter of course ( with the odd exception).

Politicians? Definitely not!  If you ask a politician to justify sending half the cohort to university with high tuition fees they will justify it by saying that (1) it is needed for the economy, and (2) the students recoup the expenditure in higher earnings.  

They are right when it comes to some degrees (medicine, engineering, law, etc) and the top 15% to 25% of the cohort, but they are likely not right when it comes to kids of middling ability (25% to 50% down the cohort) studying many other degrees.

As for parents and students, I think that, yes, they do have a general expectation that a degree will improve career prospects and earnings. 

Their choice of particular degree will likely be on idealistic preference, rather than mercenary, but underlying that is an expectation that having the degree will benefit them career-wise.

Surveys show that teenagers are largely kidding themselves as to their likely careers.  Large numbers of them say that their ideal job is in a creative arts field, and they way over-estimate their chances of achieving that, and they over-estimate the salary they are likely to obtain. 

 

neilh - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

That is a separate issue.

There is plenty of stuff on the internet available about the earnings for graduates etc. Its not been hard to find for the last few years and its normal talk.If you talk to any careers adviser they will tell you the score.

To say that politicians or parents are blind to this issue is frankly over the top. IMHO  it appeals to a certain mindset.

Surveys for teenagers would no doubt show the same results from years ago.Its hardly new about aspiration and studying the wrong thing. As my Dad use to say at one time we turned out hundreds of engineers with little chance of good jobs, and you could not get an accountant for love nor money.

 

 

Coel Hellier - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to neilh:

> To say that politicians or parents are blind to this issue is frankly over the top.

Then point me to politicians openly accepting that for many people obtaining a degree will make no difference to their earnings. 

neilh - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

David Willets.

I guess you do not have teenage children currently.

Most are acutely aware of the salary differences. Most know being Dr or in medicine is good. Most know if you are an engineer or into software your prospects are great.Those that go down the arts side know it is not well paid and very difficult to progress.

I think it is naive of the older generation to think that the younger generation is not aware of all this.

And do not tell me the that this is a middle class thing.

I employ enough skilled /semi skilled /no skills people with children in a traditional northern class town people to know it is not.

By the way I think the more interesting scandal in the figures is what happens to women graduates earnings after 29.

 

Coel Hellier - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to neilh:

> Most are acutely aware of the salary differences.

My suggestion of lack of awareness is not so much about salary differentials between different types of degree, but salary differentials between degree and no degree.

Presuming you have teenage children, would you say that the current climate encourages middle-ability teenagers to seriously consider the non-degree path? 

gethin_allen on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> A really interesting breakdown in the link below on the money in one University, with the ratuer shocking figure that only 39% of fee income is going to academic staff, course equipment and staff related costs !

This BBC article is a total crock of sh!t.

The rest of the money goes on IT, Buildings and libraries! So these aren't essential facilities for teaching students?

I'd like to see someone standing in a field lecturing to a student about bioinformatics without an IT provision and then telling all the student's, who have paid almost £10,000 to be there, that they'll have to get out to Waterstones to buy their textbooks for themselves at £50+ each and buy their research articles themselves because we haven't got a library/a budget for journal subscriptions.

And then when they're all deeply suicidal because they've saddled themselves with a ton of debt and the university isn't doing it's job, they haven't got any support services.

I can't say that I agree with the way the institution I work I spends every penny, they put on a lot of expensive events purely to attract students and the bureaucracy can be annoying, but libraries, IT and good buildings to work in are pretty essential.

Offwidth - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to gethin_allen:

Spending on buildings increased 35% in real terms in the 7 years to 2017 ( HEFCE data). Who on earth denies we need buildings IT libraries etc? The issues here are about balance of spending. HEFCE data show a declining proportion of spend on academic staff and their activities in recent years. Given the extra fixed costs (pensions, NI, extra bureaucracy,  inceasing numbers on seniour salaries (> 100k) increasing faster than inflation) this means we use a greater proportion of  casualised staff across the sector to teach than ever before.

neilh - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Yes . And I know teenagers who have gone down that route.Lastweek talking to,parents whose 18 year old daughter and decided to go for an apprentice programming job as an example.

I reckon you might be behind the times on what is going on now

anyway must bail out of discussion other things to do.

Webster - on 27 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

The academic elite.

far too many people getting micky mouse degrees from old poly's 'for the experience'.

Offwidth - on 28 Nov 2018
IJL99 on 28 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

 

> Spending on buildings increased 35% in real terms in the 7 years to 2017 ( HEFCE data). Who on earth denies we need buildings IT libraries etc? The issues here are about balance of spending. HEFCE data show a declining proportion of spend on academic staff and their activities in recent years. Given the extra fixed costs (pensions, NI, extra bureaucracy,  inceasing numbers on seniour salaries (> 100k) increasing faster than inflation) this means we use a greater proportion of  casualised staff across the sector to teach than ever before.

 

The facilities in some of these building is simply astounding, I went on a tour of some of Sheffield university buildings with my son.  Its looks like a corporate HQ, huge video screens all over the place, all glass and stainless steel.  It appear to me that a vast amount has been spent simply on making the facilities look impressive, presumably this is what they have to do to attract students.  its was all a bit of a shock to someone who can remember it all been a bit shabby but free.  

 

climbingpixie on 28 Nov 2018
In reply to neilh:

> By the way I think the more interesting scandal in the figures is what happens to women graduates earnings after 29.

What happens then? 

Offwidth - on 28 Nov 2018
cander - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to IJL99:

Actually it was never free, just not paid for by the students, but by everyone else who didnt go there.

Offwidth - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to cander:

.... and like all education (when fees were free) everyone else took the benefits to the economy and life of University outputs (R&D, a highly skilled workforce, huge benefits to the arts etc). Back then you only paid for Universities proportional to your tax rate (it was no cost to those not paying tax). The current system is a way of taxing the poor a good deal more by moving a zero or very low liability under the old system to a current high liability for graduates, paid in the future... and the rich end up with an overall massive tax break ......its highly regressive. No one else in Europe has anything like such high fees and Germany is fee free.

Post edited at 10:17
neilh - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Not sure how the rich end up with a massive tax break, can you explain a bit more.

Post edited at 10:36
BnB - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to neilh:

> Not sure how the rich end up with a massive tax break, can you explain a bit more.

Pay attention Neil. According to UKC, business owners and high earners enjoy a vast array of tax loopholes that reduce their burden to zero. It’s genuinely puzzling that our accountants don’t seem to be aware of them

Doug on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to BnB:

Maybe you need to change accountant ?

Coel Hellier - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> and like all education (when fees were free) everyone else took the benefits to the economy

But while it is pretty clear that there are benefits to the economy of sending the top 15% of the cohort to university, it is much less clear that there are economic benefits of sending those 30% to 50% down the cohort to university.

> Back then you only paid for Universities proportional to your tax rate (it was no cost to those not paying tax).

Except that poor people also pay VAT, tax on alcohol, tobacco, petrol, etc. And these are a much larger proportion of a poor person's income. 

> The current system is a way of taxing the poor a good deal more ...

The poor people in society tend to be those without degrees.  And in the current system they pay less than if the cost were on general taxation. 

Offwidth - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to neilh:

The fraction of the overall payment going to Universities was simply reduced for the rich as all graduates pay equally. Their fraction of the tax burden would previously have been much higher.. as a bonus, with fees, their children can afford to pay off quicker (so pay less interest than someone who cant afford to do this). It not quite as bad as Poll Tax but its based on similar ideas and the regressive unfairness is much easier to hide. 

Offwidth - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

No fees is OK for Germany though based on such public benefit arguments and they have a higher level of HE participation than us; same for Scotland. Every westernised economy other than us has 50% HE participation.

Sure poor people payed VAT etc before fees came in (just like they still do) but the average fraction of that VAT etc that went to fund Universities was much lower when added up than the average fee repayments are going to be. I've not seen any economic anaylsis anywhere that doesn't admit UK University fees are regressive. 

Post edited at 12:20
Offwidth - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to BnB:

Complete red herring. I'm not a socialist I'm a liberal who despises regressive taxation methods.

All the upper middle class are rich. I'm part of the rich: I have no kids, much less of my tax now pays for Universities. Graduates from  poor families who only paid VAT etc and recieved a grant and had no fee costs before, now pay the full repayment on the fee and on the loans that replaced grants.  

Post edited at 12:21
Coel Hellier - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> No fees is OK for Germany though based on such public benefit arguments and they have a higher level of HE participation than us; same for Scotland. 

I'm aware that there is *claimed* to be a public benefit from 50% HE rates, but is there actually good evidence that it is true?

> I've not seen any economic anaylsis anywhere that doesn't admit UK University fees are regressive. 

Can you point us to one such?  Given that people without degrees (most of the poorest) and those graduates earning below 25k,, do not pay the tuition-fee tax, I don't see how the poorest can be paying more, given tuition fees, then they would if it were on general taxation.  

neilh - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

I just do not understand what you are saying.How was the tax burden on the rich reduced? Did they get a tax discount or pay less tax as a result?Can you back that up with numbers. I am really intrigued.

When you hear people like Martyn Lewis talk about the fees  issue, he says take out the loans, its cheap, low cost for everybody. Its written off in due course. if you earn less than £23,500 you do not pay it.And importantly just about the worse thing you can do is pay it off early( exactly the opposite of what you say).

 

Coel Hellier - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to neilh:

> I just do not understand what you are saying.How was the tax burden on the rich reduced?

He's comparing a high-earner paying tuition fees (9%) and 45% income tax to a middle-earner paying 9% tuition fees and 20% tax -- and saying that if it were all on the income tax then the higher earner would be paying more compared to the middle-earner.

Which is true, but this means the middle-earner pays more than in Offwidth's system, it does not mean the poor pay more.  They can't pay more in a system where non-graduates and low earners don't pay any tuition fees. 

But, being a lefty, Offwidth doesn't like it because he's far more interested in soaking the rich than actually benefiting the poor.

neilh - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

I am not sure he is saying that.

I have great respect for offwidths' views which is why I am intrigued.

BnB - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

 

But we have a different system today with three times the number of undergraduate places. You can't expect to pay for it under the same system, particularly when the bottom third of those degrees are effing pointless and don't deliver any skills that employers can't get straight from school. I'm genuinely enthusiastic about social mobility. I was brought up in a working class environment until I was lucky enough to receive a boost through educational opportunity. But you've made a class issue out of Blair's ill-conceived plan to democratise university without considering the end-product, or how to fund it. How would you pay for all the media studies courses, then?

Post edited at 13:09
Offwidth - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

You seem to be muddling graduates from poor backgrounds with low payed employed graduates. I think students  from poor backgrounds are more likely to be studying degrees that lead to reliable professional jobs and so are more likely to pay off their debt. 

I will acknowledge 'regressive' is bandied around a bit, often in defence of fees, but that is based on exaggeration of the effects of low HE participation from particupar areas  (ie not looking at tax takes). I also think fees and especially loans replacing grants are holding back improvements in participation.

Analysis of  impact of UK Universities?

£75 billion annually to the economy,  R&D and a workforce vital for future success in the modern world and contributing greatly to a better world.

https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/facts-and-stats/Pages/impact-of-higher-education.aspx

Offwidth - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to neilh:

Martin Lewis does excellent practical work encouraging prospective students (especially from poor backgrounds)  not to be put off by fees (and dismissing fee myths). Thats the reality they currently face. His points are not relevant to the argument if fees or current fee levels are a public good.

Offwidth - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to BnB:

The biggest expansion had ended before fees even arrived and numbers are about the same now as when 9k fees came in. Increasing fee levels with all other factors remaining equal generally makes things more regressive as more students fail to pay off more of their debt and the burden including above inflation interest and all the system costs fall, back on the taxpayer. Some now argue it may save us nothing at all (from the increase from 3k) and all this extra graduate debt from the move to 9k fees was a waste of time and worse still will really hit the taxpayer in future in the same way PFI costs do now.

Post edited at 13:26
BnB - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> The biggest expansion had ended before fees even arrived and numbers are about the same now as when 9k fees came in.

So the expansion was carried out before the government had worked out how to fund it!

And you still haven’t answered my question

a) how would you fund the system and b) should we fund degrees with questionable utility?

i once interviewed a graduate with a first class in Computer Studies from Sheffield Hallam whose course did not cover databases, or learning to program. She used Excel a couple of times at least.

Post edited at 13:54
Coel Hellier - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> You seem to be muddling graduates from poor backgrounds with low payed employed graduates.

No, I'm talking about poor people.  Not graduates from poor background who are now earning a decent salary.

Poor people (those earning below the threshold) do not pay for tuition fees, so the tuition-fee system cannot be said to be regressive against poor people.  

> Analysis of  impact of UK Universities. £75 billion annually to the economy,  R&D and a workforce vital for future success

This is just sales talk, not an evidence-based assessment.

There is no real evidence that sending people 30% to 50% down the cohort to university (as opposed to them developing careers and skills on the job) actually benefits the economy.

The fact that employers *ask* for a degree does not itself mean that that role *needs* a degree-level education. Employers ask simply because they can with so many graduates these days. 

 

neilh - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Is not one of the issues with fees/loans that more people from a poorer background are now going to uni than before. Is that not a good thing , especially when they are doing tech subjects?That to me is a very positive step. 

Offwidth - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to neilh:

The fact has happened is a good thing, the rate of change is a bad thing. There is however no proof that 9k loans caused this change, it probably would have happened whatever and probably changed faster if fees were still at the much less regressive situation when they were 3k (with fairer repayment and grants). 

There is increasing evidence  the system is putting off further improvements and potential students in general, now we have loans replacing grants. Things are changing sspecially slow in the top rank institutions. .

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/aug/15/government-accused-of-total-failure-to-widen-elite-university-access

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/aug/16/young-people-more-sceptical-about-value-of-university-poll

 

Post edited at 15:04
Offwidth - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier

I was pretty claerly talking about graduates from poor backgrounds.

It's not sales talk its a summary and the information is all based on research referenced elsewhere on the site. Having Universities caught making shit up would be rather embarrasing.

Only about 30% of 18 year olds currently go to HE in the UK. this included degree equivalent vocational work in HE and FE colleges. Approaching 30% of jobs now require degrees.

Post edited at 15:15
Coel Hellier - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> I was pretty claerly talking about graduates from poor backgrounds.

What I was replying to was your statement that:

"The current system is a way of taxing the poor a good deal more ...".

The current system is that you only pay tuition tax above £25k, and then only on the amount over £25k, so you only pay "a good deal more" when earning well over £25k. Such people are simply not poor, they are middle-earners. 

So the current system does not cause the poor to pay more and so is not "regressive". 

Coel Hellier - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> Approaching 30% of jobs now require degrees.

Does that mean that employers ask for degrees, or does it mean that the task can only be done by people trained to degree level? 

 

neilh - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Or they are going to apprenticeships which are growing in popularity from what I see. 

Being sceptical  about the value is good if it makes sure students are not wasting their time and ...money. 

 

Post edited at 15:35
BnB - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Does that mean that employers ask for degrees, or does it mean that the task can only be done by people trained to degree level? 

It means that, for 30% of all positions, employers find it convenient and efficient to sift through only 30% of the potential applications and the degree provides an easy filter. 

Offwidth - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to neilh:

Sadly the opposite.

https://www.ft.com/content/2bf9c9aa-59c3-11e8-b8b2-d6ceb45fa9d0

https://realbusiness.co.uk/apprenticeship-decline-spell-extinction-university-alternative/

There is growth in graduate apprentice course numbers but I'm not convinced these can be run at a profit or will even work with larger numbers (usually day release or block taught so it leads to very uneven resource demand).

Offwidth - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

The former... however the big picture is what our future competing nations are doing.. all have more HE participation,  most have much better HE level vocational training.

BnB - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Third time of asking.

a) how would you fund the system and b) should we fund degrees with questionable utility?

You're better placed than most to comment. Genuinely interested to hear your view.

Coel Hellier - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> however the big picture is what our future competing nations are doing.. all have more HE participation,  ...

But again, that only benefits them if sending 50% of the cohort to university, as opposed to 30%, actually benefits the economy.  I'm hugely dubious about that.

> ... most have much better HE level vocational training.

I do agree that we need vocational training.  I also think this could be better done as apprenticeships rather than being "HE level".

Offwidth - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

My point was comparing proportions of rich and poor tax levels pre fees (that paid for Universities) to the future payment burden on graduates from such groups. Sure its not regressive right now but thats only because the repayment of debt has been kicked down the road and is 'off balance sheet' in UK debt terms. Due to recent changes in repayment rates, the current predicted tax burden hasn't dropped much at all compared to 3k fee levels (with serious implications for the future exchequer) and I don't think anyone disagrees that graduate repayments hit those in low paid graduate professions who came from poor families the hardest. The most regressive part was the move from 3k and a fairer repayment and grant system to the current system, with really increased debt write-off. Its not just the fee level its the complex system: interaction with interest rates, loans for grants and possibilities of family help for the two groups. The talk of no fees being regressive usually lazilly comes from the  acknowledging different proportions: rich kids being more than 3 times more likely to go to University at 18; yet ignoring rich families paid on average much more than 3 times the state tax take in the days of zero fees; so on average the rich group do pay proportionately less.. (even before the debt write off issue is taken into account). Poll style payment systems always result in such problems.

Over and above finance there are psychological factors that are very different in the two groups, seemingly particularly important for Russel group participation rates.

Offwidth - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Modern apprentiships are often HE level. All graduate apprentiships are.

Coel Hellier - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> Modern apprentiships are often HE level. All graduate apprentiships are.

I still think that full-time attendance at an HE institute is the wrong model.   A better model is on-the-job training and apprenticeships.  HE institutes might then offer targeted modules in partnership.

Again, this is not the sort of thing that most people going to university in the UK to get a degree are doing.  Many are following watered-down academic degrees of dubious value. 

Offwidth - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to BnB:

My ideal woule be zero fee and proper full cost state funding  with much more state control on numbers in subject areas  and different levels of subsidy/ bursaries where needed. Dump the expensive bullshit of REF, TEF (and KEF?) and replace with simpler cheaper metrics based on real functional  evidence. Ban ZHCs in HE. Return tenure to established full time academic staff and implement an academic freedom charter (on US lines). Improve governance across HE (like Scotland has)  to increase public accountability. Reformulate Polytechnic style vocational focussed Uni models. Improve state funding for Masters and Doctorate qualifications in Universities. Make private institutions face the same quality systems as state ones. Fund HE and FE colleges and apprentiships properly and expand these (hold Uni undergrad numbers constant for the moment) . Look for regional cooperation across HE and FE rather than competition. Improve P/T and mature student support in HE (currently a disaster). Nationally recognise and celebrate educational success in HE in the UK and the huge contribution it makes to the economy and society rather than constant political bashing it gets. Move more toward Germany as a HE model rather than the US.

I'd settle for lower fees (even in my views, 3k fees alongside grants and lower interest rates were not so regressive) and removal of the worst market bullshit that leads to huge expense and wasted staff time for no possible gain (esp. TEF reliance on NSS) More recognition and celebration that we still have a sector as good as any in the world, despite the idiot politicians. Plus something on participation, academic freedom, governance, staff casualisation and do something more on the vocational , P/T, Masters, Doctorate and mature student problems. 

The current market system doesn't seem to me to work in any political terms. I'm not bashing the worth to individuals of say Media Studies degrees (the ones I know certainly not 'Micky Mouse' at all),  but there is no shortage of such graduates and there are many serious UK shortages for graduates in many areas, especially STEM. If we control immigration more tightly after Brexit it will be even worse as they currently fill the economic gaps. 

Post edited at 17:10
Offwidth - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Graduate apprentices spend the vast majority of their time at work .. your ignorance on this is depressing.

Dave B on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to BnB:

Not saying it didn't happen, but are you sure it was computer studies? I ask as there are many programs that reduce programming content, (but I've not seen a Computer Studies degree ever...) 

E. G Business information systems where they might do a little programming in year one... Possibly all but forgotten by year 3, but to have skills in many other aspects of business use of It. If you interviewed one of these they isn't necessarily have programming skills... Ours don't, but do have database skills and itil and project management skills. 

 

???Sheffield hallam is not rubbish,  and I don't teach there  

 

BnB - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Much appreciated, thanks

BnB - on 29 Nov 2018
In reply to Dave B:

I can't guarantee it was Computer Science instead of Computer Studies or BIS but I genuinely doubt this recipient of a first class degree actually understood what a database was. She said they hadn't studied databases so who can blame her?

I know it's not rubbish. My brother was a professor there!

Post edited at 17:33
Dave B on 30 Nov 2018
In reply to BnB:

It came across earlier as, 'Sheffield H are dreadful as they didn't teach either databases or programming on a computing degree'  

I'm glad you don't think so. 

I've never come across a Computing / Computer Science degree that didn't include programming and/or database at some level, though we are changing one of our programmes to be infrastructure based  where programming will be pretty limited, but they will still study database systems as well as operating systems, security, user support and training, business improvement etc... . This on the basis that there are many jobs in It where people don't need to program... and many people find it challenging... But then we also offer a Software Engineering degree for those who want to program.

Hopefully, the students will recognise what kind of jobs will suit them after they graduate. 

neilh - on 30 Nov 2018
In reply to Dave B:

Is not the trend to teach students the very basics of programming on the understanding that when they get a job it could be one of any number they have to use.

Offwidth - on 30 Nov 2018
In reply to neilh:

That depends. Some courses sound like Computing courses but are in fact Business School courses with no real coding (esp some called BIS and  ICT). Many computing courses prefer more hands-on work early, to stop abstraction turning students off: so some practical coding in depth alongside the broader general stuff. Computing courses with different names have different levels of abstraction, coding focus (languages and volumes) and vocational focus.

On B&B's point I've never known any first class computing student of any type be unaware of the basics of databases so the only thing I can think of is a mental block when asked under pressure. In my old incarnation as an Electrical and Electronic Engineer we did have a student who was incapable of passing Analogue Electronics but was very good in everything else: they got a 2.2.

Dave B on 30 Nov 2018
In reply to neilh:

All of our students get a module in programming in year 1... Most will do more  even if they don't realise it when they start  But fewer will do in depth coding to the level they could be employed to be a developer . They might do some scripting of some kind  but wouldn't develop a big system  

BnB - on 30 Nov 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> That depends. Some courses sound like Computing courses but are in fact Business School courses with no real coding (esp some called BIS and  ICT).

I think this was probably the case in the example I quoted. It was 10 years ago so the memory fades but I remember being horrified that someone with, say, BIS for a course title could come out with so little knowledge and yet such a good grade. She probably ended up counting timesheets in the Project Management Office of a Building Society. Highly lucrative work in fact but not requiring any qualifications.

 

Post edited at 14:25
Offwidth - on 01 Dec 2018
In reply to BnB:

Latest HEPI view on fees is that their should be a graduate levy on big companies to offset the cost of student fee reductions :

https://www.hepi.ac.uk/2018/11/29/employer-contributions-replace-fees-relieve-student-debt-argues-new-hepi-paper/

Also a sensible view on why funding outside teaching costs is important  for students (albeit I still think English Universities have exploited the 9k fees and HE market to overspend on buildings, central admin functions and senior staff pay at the expense of teaching and related funding (especially the abuses of casualised staff):

https://www.hepi.ac.uk/2018/11/22/new-report-calls-universities-tell-students-fees-go-new-figures-reveal-half-fee-income-goes-teaching-rest-also-benefits-students/

wintertree - on 01 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> overspend on buildings

At least they’re built to last....

 

.... until the contractor’s handover period expires.

Offwidth - on 01 Dec 2018
In reply to wintertree:

Its really sad to see so many problems in some buildings so recently built and also below par environmental ratings for new buildings are still too common (including in some so called top ranked Green Universities).

Another good article on the range of  staff contracts... it shows we currently have no idea on the volume  of atypical contract use, including ZHC use,  in the sector. With some good news in a response that it might change soon (as a cynic I'd say look to see ZHCs style contracts disguised as something else, as the sector is addicted to their use and won't go cold turkey)

https://wonkhe.com/blogs/who-works-in-a-university/

Plus I've linked below another investigation  I support. The current concept behind 9k fees is paying back depending on graduate wealth (income reaching a threshold). I think this is clearly disadvantageous to graduates in above threshold lower paid professions compared to those from rich backgrounds.  With the help, of a wealthy family graduates can pay off loans faster, better access unpaid or poorly paid intern positions required for entry into many areas of employment (I'd like to see these severely limited or banned),  get financial help in house purchase and long term boosted incomes from inheritance. Hence I think to be fairer in increasing social mobility and University participation from poor families we need to look at better fee support than the current fees repayment system with bursaries provide.

https://www.hepi.ac.uk/2018/09/20/6489/

Post edited at 10:23
Offwidth - on 01 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

..... and a practical guide to Freedom of Speech on campus (as the old thread on this is archived)

https://www.hepi.ac.uk/2018/07/19/cracking-code-practical-guide-university-free-speech-policies/

.... and a good critique of the IFS report and the ministers use of it

https://wonkhe.com/blogs/the-ifs-on-hes-absolute-earnings-benefit/

 

 

 

Post edited at 10:47
Offwidth - on 01 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

And a look at how grade algorithms effect grade inflation (I've clearly missed a lot of good HE articles recently!)

https://wonkhe.com/blogs/uk-degree-algorithms-the-nuts-and-bolts-of-grade-inflation/

The problem of Student Loan debt and The Deficit:

https://wonkhe.com/blogs/begone-fiscal-illusions-understanding-student-loans-in-the-national-deficit/

Post edited at 11:39
Richard J - on 01 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

These are all very interesting, but we find ourselves without a Universities Minister this morning, now that Sam Gyimah has jumped off the burning ship that is HM Government.

Not that this would normally matter, but in the next few weeks we'll see ONS reclassifying the way students loans show up in the government accounts - almost certainly making the system look much more expensive than the current "fiscal illusions", and then the Augar review, which will almost certainly try and engineer some way of making the sticker price to students look less frightening.

I suspect you'll get your wish of some return to student number controls, and as you say, this will put pressure on institutions that have overstretched themselves financially.  But whatever Michael Barber might say, and whatever the "logic" of a marketised system  dictates, I don't think it's in the realm of political reality that a large university will be allowed to fail.

Offwidth - on 01 Dec 2018
In reply to Richard J:

Agreed... rumours are another large older institution is being helped out.

Richard J - on 01 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Unsurprising.  But I think there is a practical problem - the Office for Students doesn't have the financial resources that HEFCE used to have, now teaching income is mostly funnelled through fees and the research money has been put into UKRI.  So I suspect that any really big problem will end up becoming public, in a way that didn't happen when someone would have a discrete word with Sir Alan and it would all be magically sorted out...

 

neilh - on 01 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Are there any other costs you want to put on big businesses? A ludicrous idea. Only takes away cash which can be better used elsewhere

Coel Hellier - on 01 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> The current concept behind 9k fees is paying back depending on graduate wealth (income reaching a threshold). I think this is clearly disadvantageous to graduates in above threshold lower paid professions compared to those from rich backgrounds.  

So you assert, but it doesn't ring true to me.    So, actual figures based on current income tax rates and bands, and paying 9% tuition tax on anything over 25k:

Someone earning £30k pays £3630 income tax and £450 tuition tax. 

Someone earning £70k pays £16360 income tax and £4050 tuition tax.

So the higher earner is paying 4.5 times as much income tax but 9 times as much tuition tax.  

So, if we abolished tuition fees and paid it out of income tax, then the lower earner would lose out compared to now. 

But, you might say, the higher earner will pay it off much earlier, and will benefit from then on.  True, but the lower-earner will never pay it off, and after 30 years it'll be cancelled. The projections are that only half of it might get re-paid.  

So, overall, it's rather unclear to me that the current system is unfair to "above-threshold lower-paid professionals".

> With the help, of a wealthy family graduates can pay off loans faster, better access unpaid or poorly paid intern positions required for entry into many areas of employment (I'd like to see these severely limited or banned),  get financial help in house purchase and long term boosted incomes from inheritance.

All of that is true, but what does it have to do with tuition fees? 

BnB - on 01 Dec 2018
In reply to neilh:

> Are there any other costs you want to put on big businesses? A ludicrous idea. Only takes away cash which can be better used elsewhere

If it were a good idea then it’s a cost that should be borne by all businesses, isn’t it? But I expect the introduction of such a rule would suddenly see firms perceive new virtues in school leavers, to the great detriment of those youngsters who showed the ambition to better their qualifications.

Offwidth - on 01 Dec 2018
In reply to Richard J:

Indeed. It makes one wonder what institution might break that 'bank'. For the moment its clear that institutions are being helped despite what the ex minister said. As I said above Moodys have priced that high llikelihood of bail-out in on their University bond risks.

Offwidth - on 01 Dec 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Firstly those numbers you present are not based on trustably fixed rates and thresholds, as the government keeps moving the goalposts.. Secondly £450 assumes a fixed £30k salary....very unlikely.... these people normally end up paying well above  £2k a year on average for the full term (not dissimilar to a mortgage of the same size but more back-weighted). 

https://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/student-loan-repayment-calculator (scroll down to see the average repayments graph)

Thirdly many people on lower level professional salaries from poor family backgrounds are already stuggling to pay rent and tuiton fees, let alone save for a morgage or to have kids and this is before the much bigger repayments of 9k fees really kick in.

As all this becomes more obvious to the general public it will be an increasingly large disincentive. I already know kids from such backgrounds with very good A levels going straight into jobs or trade apprentice schemes for these very reasons (and no I didn't put them off: they just didn't trust the risk of the debt for the likely outcomes). Right now, with fees maybe dropping in a year or so, there is an added incentive to delay going to Uni (helping create maybe the first Uni to go bust without a bailout?).

Knowing how I thought as a bright kid from a poorish background, if I were going to University now, I would try to secure full sponsorship or go to mainland Europe to study Physics in one of the many low fee or free fee courses taught in English (of course Brexit will damage that prospect soon). As it was, back in 1980 I secured  a graduate apprentice scheme and got a grant.  I left Uni in '84 with nearly 10k savings and took on a RAD post (salaried PhD) and immediately bought a house. All almost unthinkable these days. The middle class familes with mean parents not topping up their living expenses  were the poorest at Uni back then.

 But don't you worry, just keep on thinking prospects are OK now for bright kids from poor backgrounds.

Post edited at 18:10
Offwidth - on 01 Dec 2018
In reply to BnB:

Deleyed entry into HE is not always a bad thing... even now only 30% of 18 year olds go direct to HE, despite the nearly half who end up doing a HE qualification. The mature student Engineering technicians who came into the EEE degree courses I taught in, in large numbers in the mid 80s, entering via vocational routes, were much more responsible, clearer in their employment aims and slightly better performing on average than supposedly better qualified  A level students. Industrial levys that Thatcher got rid of had helped pay for a lot of them as industrial apprentiships.

Coel Hellier - on 01 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

>  But don't you worry, just keep on thinking prospects are OK now for bright kids from poor backgrounds.

Prospects are indeed "OK" for such people.  But I don't see how putting tuition on general taxation, thus expecting the non-graduate half of the population (generally poorer than the graduate half) to pay more for university education would, be an improvement. 

neilh - on 02 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Out of interest how much do foreign students contribute to the overall funding of uni’s .

it amazes me how many both EU and non EU students there are at uni’s these days.

the number of French students for example at my daughters uni, Warwick , is unbelievable. They seem to be everywhere........

neilh - on 02 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Times have changed and it does not always help to look back. Times were very tough then in the early 80’s as the economy started to deindustrialise. 

BnB - on 02 Dec 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Prospects are indeed "OK" for such people.  But I don't see how putting tuition on general taxation, thus expecting the non-graduate half of the population (generally poorer than the graduate half) to pay more for university education would, be an improvement. 

I don’t agree with your logic. Those who haven’t gone to university have paid tax that has contributed to me (and probably you) studying higher and (potentially) earning enough to pay extra tax so that they can enjoy services that you and I may never require. Swings and roundabouts.

Offwidth - on 02 Dec 2018
In reply to neilh:

Lets say if brexit has an impact on overseas student numbers UK Universities are in really deep trouble (all Mays fault as she is the block stopping them being removed from immigration figures). The current claim is above 430, 000 each year.

On the history point its not about the period. I just  hope it might one day to be possible to ensure bright ensure kids from poor backgrounds are proportionately incentivised again. In my view its not improved since then, and Im very worried about the next few years if fees don't drop and we retain loans for the previous grants.

Offwidth - on 02 Dec 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

You seem to be missing my point again and again. If you look at current analysis of the recent changes to loan debt you might not be removing any taxes at all. The increase from 3k to  9k fees and detailed repayment changes mean all this extra debt might have provided zero improvement  for the taxpayer long term, as the predicted default rates have skyrocketed. In the best case modelling more than half the potential taxpayer benefit in the change has gone. In such situations the differential effect on kids from different backgrounds becomes much more important.

I've said  the 3k fee situation with repayments levels at that at time and with grants was not an especially big problem in finance terms.  The bigger problem then was mostly due to applicant viewpoints (hence why people like Martin Lewis did such a good job dispelling myths) . The current 9k fee system with loans replacing grants has become a major UK economic problem. It can't last, as the predicted  future impact on the exchequer is already causing shock waves; but it is currently regressive (in finance and attitude terms) 

Post edited at 12:35
Offwidth - on 02 Dec 2018
In reply to BnB:

Exactly. ... add in the skyrocketing default issues digging deep into any tax saving and different attitudinal issues to debt when such problems are becoming more publicly evident and that's my concerns in a nutshell.

Another way of looking at it is one of the biggest untapped economic contributions in the UK is due to the  wasted ecomomic potential of bright poor kids. The current fee situation (unlike the 3k fee situation)  acts like a ball and chain when they become net graduate contributors, cutting potential economic gains from their investment, spending etc. Richer kids can stick the ball in a cart to drag around more easily, or just cut it off. If doing this improved ball and chains elsewhere there might be some logic but the analysis shows there is much smaller than advertised and possibly even no tax reduction benefit elsewhere.

Offwidth - on 02 Dec 2018
In reply to neilh:

.... some more details on the money international students provide for the UK ecomony.

https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/news/Pages/International-students-now-worth-25-billion-to-UK-economy---new-research.aspx

 

Coel Hellier - on 02 Dec 2018
In reply to BnB:

> Those who haven’t gone to university have paid tax that has contributed to me (and probably you) studying higher and (potentially) earning enough to pay extra tax so that they can enjoy services that you and I may never require.

Your argument depends on sending 50% of the cohort to university (as opposed to, say, 25%) being a societal good that benefits wider society and the economy.  It is exactly that that I am disputing. 

Coel Hellier - on 02 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> In the best case modelling more than half the potential taxpayer benefit in the change has gone.

In other words the cost falls on general taxation, which is exactly what you want, isn't it?

Offwidth - on 02 Dec 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

You just stick to your rhetorical sarcasm and denial. For me, forcing all this extra debt on the succesful graduates, hitting those from the poorest backgrounds hardest, for possibly no tax benefit at all for the rest of us, is up with the most stupid ideas government has ever come up with.

On your answer to BnB: as an academic you should  know full well that  its incorrect that 50% of the English population go to University paying 9k fees as the total for all HE is still only 49%, and quite a few are part-time (about 4%). Plus there has been little change in the proportion that do goto HE since 9k fees came in (it peaked at 49% just before)

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/648165/HEIPR_PUBLICATION_2015-16.pdf

Some comparative data people can play with to see where the UK fits in:

https://ourworldindata.org/tertiary-education

Post edited at 18:44
neilh - on 03 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Both parties have been as bad as each other on this issue.

Nobody has a perfect solution as to how to fund it that ticks all the boxes.

 

Offwidth - on 03 Dec 2018
In reply to neilh:

I doubt that: adding fees and changing repayment schemes that might save the taxpayer nothing is as  bad a policy can get.

paul__in_sheffield - on 03 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Hi Offwidth, it’s strange how the stats come out and don’t reflect your own experience.

if I take, say, the last 20 years. I’ve lost count of the number of post doc researchers who’ve worked for me. They’ve come from all over the world, on Tier 2 visas, and many haveeventually gained a right to stay. The same applies to PhD students. Interestingly, not one has been an EU citizen from outside of the UK. My current Institute again draws from all over the world, but again, no EU. 

If often wondered how this comes about, but we strive to advertise widely, and for equality and diversity, and pay good salaries. That being said, it’s almost as rare as a UK candidate ;-)

RomTheBear on 03 Dec 2018
In reply to BnB:

> Third time of asking.

> a) how would you fund the system and b) should we fund degrees with questionable utility?

I think we need to be careful when judging the "utility" of degrees.

It may look like a degree in philosophy or history is pretty useless in our economy however there is tremendous value for society - and democracy - in having people who can understand deeply these subjects.

Moreover, it's almost impossible to predict what will be useful/useless in the future, so it makes sense to spread your bets.

neilh - on 03 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Do you know for certain that it is tax neutral?

And how do you balance that against the demand from Universities for the higher fees?

BnB - on 03 Dec 2018
In reply to RomTheBear:

> I think we need to be careful when judging the "utility" of degrees.

> It may look like a degree in philosophy or history is pretty useless in our economy however there is tremendous value for society - and democracy - in having people who can understand deeply these subjects.

Completely agree on the first point. When I mentioned "utility" I was thinking of anything with the suffix "studies", a notorious indicator of low academic standards. Indeed employers rate History as one of the most valuable qualifications since it tests analytical and communication skills. It also tends to be disproportionately represented in the Russell Group institutions. Philosophy is both a qualification of the highest order (Oxbridge PPE, PPM etc) and a cop out for weaker students so calls for more discretion.

> Moreover, it's almost impossible to predict what will be useful/useless in the future, so it makes sense to spread your bets.

The UK has gone firmly down the STEM route as that is a widely embraced economic bet. I'd argue the case for Humanities graduates (I'm one) but I think government does well to steer academic access towards the anticipated economic needs, particularly in the segment of the tertiary intake that most benefits from a vocational aspect to their degree. Of course, the latest developments in machine learning encompass natural language (Hey Siri) where Linguistic skills come to the forefront, so you're right to caution against abandoning traditional Humanities.

Post edited at 11:24
Offwidth - on 03 Dec 2018
In reply to neilh:

The amount varies depending on assumptions and analysis. The OBR paper currently has a £9.8 billion estimate of cost of 'default' on a £16b outlay. However that is very sensitive to government borrowing rates c.f. the higher interest due on those paying the loans (the costs figure ignoring this cheap borrowing is over £40b). Things could easily be a lot worse in poorer ecomomic conditions where, say UK borrowing costs increase and/ or repayments drop due to a less than estimated job market bouyancy for graduates. It's similar in political foolishness to the PFI debacle under Labour (a Conservative policy they expanded inappropriately) .

https://obr.uk/student-loans-and-fiscal-illusions/

 

Post edited at 15:49
Offwidth - on 04 Dec 2018
In reply to neilh:

I forgot to answer your second question.You might argue Universities have a public duty to argue for more fees when some of their most important courses are looking to make a loss for them and the main area of subsidy (that also subsidises research, whos funding is hardly ever full cost), overseas student fees, are being dumbly targetted via the Home Office on artificial immigration targets that they should not even have been a part of in the first place. Its a complete mess.

I also forgot to emphasise this OBR highlighted situation all arose since 2012. That is in the most recent 2/3 fee increase to 9k (think on 2/3 of £16b and compare to £9, 8b). The previous loanbook looked pretty safe in repayment terms. With PFI the taxpayer got hit. With 9k loans the taxpayer could yet take a hit and all those students borrowed the extra 6k on a lie from government... a case for miselling in my view.

Jonathon Wolff looks at things from the EU perspective today. He forgets overseas fees (which EU students may face soon)  have to be payed up front and must all be paid, unlike home fees.

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/dec/04/will-of-the-people-wreck-british-universities

Post edited at 10:00
Offwidth - on 04 Dec 2018
In reply to BnB:

There is no control at all on University subjects studied at present. Course numbers just meet demand. The only bursaries are in a few key shortage areas like Maths Education. STEM undergrad teaching makes the least profit and sometimes a loss.. its not incentivised in the UK... just the opposite.

neilh - on 04 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Whilst highlighting the issues ( nothing that I think anybody disagrees with), you then have to come up with a model/cost for paying for it from taxation.

So how much is it going to cost in terms of general taxation and how much extra is the working tax payer going to have to cough up?

And where does that fit in with all the demands from say social care funding, nhs, education pre-18, police ( who clearly need a few more quid)and so on.

I would suggest that in the " round" the current system for loans etc ( which is after all a graduate tax) is the compromise.

Post edited at 12:17
RomTheBear on 04 Dec 2018
In reply to neilh:

> Whilst highlighting the issues ( nothing that I think anybody disagrees with), you then have to come up with a model/cost for paying for it from taxation.

> So how much is it going to cost in terms of general taxation and how much extra is the working tax payer going to have to cough up?

> And where does that fit in with all the demands from say social care funding, nhs, education pre-18, police ( who clearly need a few more quid)and so on.

> I would suggest that in the " round" the current system for loans etc ( which is after all a graduate tax) is the compromise.

If there was one thing I would be willing to pay significantly more tax for is education. I wished there was more integration between university and the workplace though. This ensures that interests are aligned in quite an organic manner, rather than having the government deciding what students should learn - they have no clue.

That's where future wealth comes from in the end.

Offwidth - on 04 Dec 2018
In reply to neilh:

It seems crazy to me to continue to use the current system involving 9k fees when it probably saves the taxpayer nothing from the 3k fee position and leaves a major off balance sheet debt time-bomb for the future. Luckily the government is catching on to this (mainly by being forced to). The only difference to taxpayers from the 3k situation is the taxpayer payment is defferred... its the same size of taxpayer burden as it was with 3k fees. Hence, I don't need a mechanism for 3k fees.

I'd accept almost any other fair system in preference but have said I think taxpayer funding is the way to go (with zero fee my preferred option,  or a return to the old 3k fee system). I've also said as the system expands that I'd like to freeze Batchelor places and those who can't secure places for subjects of their choice be given a properly funded vocational altermative (much more like Germany). I'd also support a contraction of Batchelors places if a good quality alternative vocational route was possible (but not with EDEXCEL in charge).

Hopefully May will be gone soon and oversaes students can be removed from immigration figures.... that will massively reduce pressure on Univeristies. The EU student issue is still a major headache.

Post edited at 13:16
fred99 - on 04 Dec 2018
In reply to RomTheBear:

Does the government decide what subjects are taught at University ?

I was led to believe that the current system was for the Universities to put on whatever courses their "customers" wanted. hence a shortage of graduates in any "difficult" subjects, and a plethora of graduates in the "easy" ones - with corresponding high and low likelihoods of getting a well paid job afterwards.

Until Universities put on courses in the (rough) ratio of what the country actually needs as graduates, there will never be acceptance by many of the vast swathe of non-graduates that they should subsidise what many of them regard as a 2 or 3 year holiday for the offspring of the mainly well-off.

neilh - on 04 Dec 2018
In reply to fred99:

Is there a " shortage". From where I sit as a parent of  2 girls who have done STEM subjects( Maths and Computer Sciences) there if anything appears to be a shortage of places at good unis.( for example at Warwick doing Maths something like 1200 plus applicants for 200 or so places). granted you have to get 3 A * to get in.

And my daughters friends who were doing things like physics, chemical engineering etc also had to wait ages for offers at reasonable unis, some having to go through clearing. 1 girl wanting to do physics really struggled- straight A's.

And this was from a comp not a public school.

Dave B on 05 Dec 2018
In reply to neilh:

Of course everyone/many will want to go to what is perceived to be the top few unis. It costs the same almost irrespective of where you go, as long as you can travel there. But if they did  they wouldn't be the best perceived unis. The experience of having 200 places and 1200 places would be very different.

At the other end of the spectrum some unis are desperate for students... And by thus income. And the experience at those ones suffers in part because they lack income.

Im not sure the answer is expanding the top rated unis massively..

 

neilh - on 05 Dec 2018
In reply to Dave B:

The alternative view is that itshows that there is demand in a so called shortage subject.

Offwidth - on 12 Dec 2018
Offwidth - on 13 Dec 2018
Rob Parsons on 14:03 Thu
In reply to Offwidth:

 

From that: "Reading’s accounts, published a few days ago, reveal that the university made a £20m loss for the financial year, including a £27m loss on its subsidiary in Malaysia."

Why don't institutions like Reading confine their attention to trying to do the best possible job here? What is this bullshit with setting up overseas subsidiaries? That is simply all about money, rather than education. Perspective appears to have been badly lost.

 

Offwidth - on 12:40 Fri
In reply to Rob Parsons:

I not aware of any of these overseas ventures that have been an unqualifed success. I'm all for overseas partnership arangements in research or improving student links, but exporting of brand in the form of an overseas campus always seemed very dodgy to me. One of my specialised areas of interest is course franchise (and the validation of such courses), so I was lucky enough to get to look at HE in other countries (especially eastern Europe, and  south-east Asia) in detail and the idea too often sold, that the campus of some foreign Universities  overseas  were equivalent to the home institutions, was always plain silly at best and possible corrupt at worst.  If the concept is flawed the business model must fail at some point. The biggest risk is back to my original post on this thread.. excessive borrowing assuming student number growth will fund it... the Universities most likely to fail probably won't' be the ones with the worst reputation. Borrowing to establish an Overseas campus is just a small subset of such  borrowing risks.


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