Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The £100,000 degree: Middle class British graduates face repaying more than three times the cost of fees

There is seldom any mention on this subject of why British students need loans at all.  I paid all my son's fees up front so he emerged with zero debt.  And I am not halfway to Obama's definition of "rich".  I would have thought that many British middle-income people would also pay upfront.  Clearly, the fees are very high relative to average British disposable incomes.  Britain is a poor country -- in part because they are taxed to the eyeballs

When Universities Minister David Willetts trebled the cap on tuition fees, he said a graduate would earn an average of £100,000 more over a lifetime.  That figure appeared to justify many universities charging students £9,000 a year for their education.

But Government figures reveal that the £100,000 benefit could be completely wiped out for thousands of middle-class graduates.

Graduates who go on to get a middle-income job could see the cost of their loan rocket by more than three times the total of the fees as a result of interest charges.

That enormous debt compares with repayments of as little as £42,000 for the richest graduates, who earn enough to repay their loans quickly, and repayments of zero for some of the poorest graduates, who will eventually have their debts wiped after 30 years because they have never earned enough to begin paying them back.

Taking into account living costs, the average student debt is  predicted to hit £53,000 by graduation.

The landmark £100,000 figure, revealed in Government documents, includes the interest piled on to the debt for some graduates during the time it takes them to repay the loan. It is far higher than the £70,000 it was previously estimated students would end up paying back over their lifetimes.

A graduate’s monthly repayments depend on their earnings and are currently set at 9 per cent of income above £21,000 a year, regardless  of the interest rate or size of  the loan.

Government figures show almost 300,000 students – 70 per cent of those studying – who started  university in the autumn will eventually repay between £65,000  and £85,000.

Those who go into high-paying jobs such as medicine, finance and law will pay back less because they will start to pay off their debts sooner.

Around 20 per cent of graduates with the lowest lifetime earnings will never come close to repaying their fees and the debt will be  written off after 30 years.

But around 10 per cent of students who are in the ‘squeezed middle’ and go on to middle-income jobs could end up paying between £85,000 and £100,000.

Chuka Umunna, Labour’s business spokesman, said: ‘Students will never forgive this Government for hiking up the costs of going to university. These figures show that, as ever, it is middle and lower-income families who are being hit hardest.’

Liam Burns, president of  the National Union of Students, said: ‘It is shocking that politicians treat the potential of a generation before they have even started their working career with such nonchalance.’

University applications in England fell by 9.9 per cent this year after the higher rate of tuition fees was introduced in October.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: ‘The Government’s reforms have made the university system fairer and more progressive.

‘Most new students will not pay upfront, there will be more  financial support for those from poorer families and everyone will make lower loan repayments than they do now once they are in well paid jobs.


Mexico: Nieto proposes sweeping education reform

President Enrique Pena Nieto is proposing sweeping reforms to a public education system widely seen as moribund, taking on an iron-fisted union leader who is considered the country's most powerful woman and the main obstacle to change.

Flanked by the leaders of Mexico's three major political parties, Pena Nieto said Monday that he would send the initiative to Congress within hours to create a professional system for hiring, evaluating and promoting teachers without the "discretionary criteria" currently used in a system where teaching positions are often bought or inherited.

The plan, with multi-party support, moves much of the control of the public education system to the federal government from the 1.5 million-member National Union of Education Workers, led for 23 years by union president Elba Esther Gordillo, who under current law hires and fires teachers and has been accused of using union funds as her personal pocket book.

The proposal requires constitutional reform, meaning it would have to be ratified by Congress and at least 16 of Mexico's 31 states.

"It's time to open the door for the great educators of our country," Pena Nieto said. "The reform would give constitutional status to the National Institute for the Evaluation of Education and give it autonomy."

It was Pena Nieto's first major proposal since taking office Dec. 1 and is considered a political blow to Gordillo, who has played the role of kingmaker with many Mexican politicians.

She was conspicuously absent from the public announcement and did not respond immediately to an Associated Press request for an interview.


Australia:  $1m to help education workers feel good despite Baillieu Government job cuts

No word on whether there was any evident benefit

EDUCATION workers have undergone "emotional intelligence" sessions on coping with change under the Baillieu Government.

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, which is axing more than 400 jobs to meet savings under the Government's "sustainable government initiative", has spent more than $1 million on workshops and training sessions since March last year.

About 25 per cent of the money was spent on 103 workshops, seminars and training dealing with change, documents released under Freedom of Information reveal.

The courses included Recognising and Managing Stressed Employees, Managing Change and Building Resilience, Leading Through Change, Coping with and Managing Through Change and Understanding and Coping With Change.

In October the department paid $56,000 for career support seminars to help staff manage their careers and apply for jobs.

It also spent $62,700 on a two-day workshop titled Managing With Emotional Intelligence.

Shadow parliamentary secretary for education Colin Brooks said running workshops on managing with emotional intelligence at the same time as cutting the education system and sacking hundreds of staff seemed ludicrous.

"The hundreds of education staff losing their jobs won't feel like holding hands and singing Kumbayah at one of these workshops," he said.

Public Sector Union state secretary Karen Batt said sending people on the courses "just shows complete insensitivity".

A spokesman for Education Minister Martin Dixon said: "Professional development is central to building a world-leading education system."


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