Cameron and Clegg accused of destroying Blair's sensible scheme
Andrew Adonis, the former education minister who initially introduced tuition fees, has predicted that both Labour and the Tories will call for their abolition going into the next election.
In an article for the Times, the architect of Tony Blair’s fees scheme, introduced in 2004, defends the initial plan as ‘a sensible idea’, which applied moderate charges to counter the under-funding of universities, while providing zero-interest loan schemes for poorer students.
However, Adonis claims the scheme was ‘wrecked by David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s decision to treble them overnight, and by the greed and complacency of vice-chancellors [VCs] who thought they were a licence to print money.’
As critical as he is of Cameron and Clegg, his most vicious contempt is reserved for the university leaders:
“The VCs were soon congratulating themselves on the continued success of their cartel, and awarded themselves huge pay increases. Bath university’s boss pocketed £450,000 last year and average pay is more than £275,000. Ministers should have intervened to break the cartel and curb these excesses, but didn’t.”
From there, it was inevitable that student resentment would snowball as young people found themselves starting out with debts of more than £50,000. Since young voters richly rewarded Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal to scrap tuition fees in this election, Adonis sees no reason that Labour would abandon the promise in the next campaign.
Meanwhile, since the Tories have virtually no support among students and academics, he believes that they will have little choice but to follow suit.
“So VCs need to start planning for real austerity. The flow of money from £9,000 fees will soon dry up. They could set an example and halve their salaries.”
Of course, student activists groups which have opposed the introduction of fees from the beginning will not agree that their abolition is any cause for dismay.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.