So we have had the vote, and watched the count with sadness. At least it was good to see that 21 Liberal Democrats voted against the increase, and some were prepared to resign from government posts to do so. We need to keep reminding ourselves that 65% of the Liberal Democrat Manifesto did make it into the Coalition agreement, but unfortunately not this item.
I was interested to hear a Labour shadow minister saying yesterday that it was their intention to raise tuition fees too, and when we remember that it was Labour who introduced them in the first place and Labour who commissioned Lord Browne to do his report I suppose that we have to acknowledge that the Liberal Democrats were, and are the only party that is advocating the phasing out of student tuition fees.
I was reminded recently by a constituent about another aspect of the Browne report and the change in university funding that is perhaps even more important. I have commented on this before but it bears repeating.
As part of these changes in funding arrangements for Higher Education, the government is drastically reducing the block grant which is given directly to universities. In effect they are withdrawing funding from arts and humanities courses. It is likely that many courses, and some universities may close. The combined effect of these changes will be to reduce the concept of a degree education to a commodity. Students will be expected to buy a degree that offers them the highest earning potential in later life. But choosing a degree course is not like choosing a can of baked beans.
Professor Collini from Cambridge puts it very well in this article.