Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Fair education access, the Tory way
According to the BBC, “Universities in England may be allowed to make extra places available for wealthy UK students...”
On Radio 4’s Today programme, Universities Minister David Willetts spelled out the Government’s proposal, saying the changes would apply to "people who wish to go to university, but who sadly are being turned away just because there aren't enough places."
He went on to say that the changes would “allow companies or charities to sponsor additional places - without any cost to the taxpayer.”
What he failed to mention is that there is nothing to stop private individuals doing the same for their sprogs – paying for additional places, and with it access to a university degree.
It is of course possible that this policy of reverse social-engineering has been proposed as a straw man to appease angry Liberal Democrats after their loss of the Alternative Vote Referendum. If the policy is subsequently dropped it could be made to look like a Lib Dem “victory”.
It is also possible however that the austerity agenda has gone to the heads of some in the Conservative Party, and Dickensian notions of welfare provision are set to go hand-in-hand with a two-tier education system - for the benefit of the few, rather than the many.
Personally, I have always thought universities should distribute a finite number of places based solely upon the achievement of a specific set of grades. The policy being mooted however seems to suggest that if you have 10 students who narrowly miss out on a university place, the wealthy amongst them will perhaps still be able to go to university based on the financial position of their parents.
I think I’m just going to go and be sick.