James Forsyth

A model for coalition policy-making

A model for coalition policy-making
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David Willetts and Vince Cable deserve huge credit for coming up with an impressive agreement on higher education funding that both the Tory and Liberal Democrat leaderships can live with. They have taken the coalition beyond the coalition agreement and shown that it can make sound policy on even the thorniest of political issues.

But as important as the agreement is the way that it was hammered out. The discussions were civilised and empirical. There was—in stark contrast to the ‘blue on blue’ debates over defence and welfare—no negative briefings or anything like that.

My main quibble with it is whether the £9,000 cap on fees is set too low to allow our universities to both maintain the excellence of their teaching and their global standing. But, overall, an agreement that allows for supply side reform and has students who can afford to bearing more of the cost of their education is to be welcomed.