David Blackburn

Another one in the eye for Vince

Another one in the eye for Vince
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I feel for Vince Cable, who has morphed from Sage to Crank in a matter of weeks. Imagining himself as the scourge of the tuition fee, Cable floated the idea of a graduate tax recently. This pre-empted the Browne report into university funding and disregarded the coalition agreement, which states that all questions would be deferred until the Browne report’s publication. It was, in other words, posturing.

The BBC reports what has been rumoured in Whitehall: the government is not giving serious consideration to a graduate tax, which would have incurred enormous upfront costs. Politically, the Liberal Democrats must abolish tuition fees, or at least tame their impact on the poorest. The government is considering a diluted grad tax which would stagger loan repayments for some. It is not clear if that would be determined by family background, institution, degree class, degree subject, or future earnings – and it sounds fearfully complicated. From what I hear, the most likely outcome remains a tuition fee hike.