Who’s misleading whom?

The tuition fee row will hit its peak tonight, after which students across England will have to face up to the fact they will pay fees amounting to £27,000.

The tuition fee row is likely to hit its peak by this afternoon, after which students across England will have to face up to the fact that they will pay fees amounting to £27,000. Over the last few days Nick Clegg has turned his back on his feeble attempts to convince the country of the tuition fee plans, and focused instead on keeping order at least in his own ranks.

Following a little group therapy session on Tuesday, the Lib Dem ministers themselves have agreed to “walk through the fire”, but some of their backbench colleagues have already voiced objections to the plans written up by their senior colleague Vince Cable, despite recent Conservative efforts to assist their fellow coalition partners.

Enter Alan Mabbutt, Conservative Head of Local Government and Legal Officer, who set up the website ‘Tuition Fees – The Facts’.

With the intent to allay fears held by future graduates and their parents, ‘the facts’ drawn up by Mabbutt show a teacher earning an “average starting salary” would only have to pay back £4.41 a month instead of £49.41 under the old system – clearly a misleading figure for a website that prides itself in “helping graduates”. Assuming under these figures that a teacher paid £27,000 in tuition fees, it will take him or her more than 510 years to repay their debt.

Doubting we will ever find the Holy Grail, or even succeed in taking a massive scientific leap in the direction of longevity of life, I do doubt that any human being will live that long – at least in the near future. The side-remark on these findings that “most graduates will have to pay over a longer period” seems therefore a bit of an understatement.

The Conservative findings first of all do not take into account the rise in earnings. If indeed a teacher would pay back a mere £4.41 a month at a graduation age of 22 and has a life expectancy of 79.8 years,  the government would have to cover the remaining costs of approximately £24,000. Secondly, it assumes repayments per month are reduced by the maximum amount, which is completely unrealistic and based on simple calculation.

Before the coalition government points its finger towards Aaron Porter, President of the National Union of Students, blaming him of heading a campaign of misinformation and dirty tricks, it should assure itself of not falling prey to just these accusations.

Perhaps we should all remind the Lib Dems what their current bedfellow, education secretary Michael Gove said back in 2003:

“Some will be put off applying to elite institutions by a debt of this size. Which, as far as I’m concerned, is all to the good.”

All people know the same truth behind the tuition fees; the policies of the coalition consist of how to distort it.

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