The contours of an agreement on how to pay for university education are clearer today after Rachel Sylvester’s interview with David Willetts. Up-front fees look to be on the way out. Willetts tells Sylvester, ‘It’s very important that it’s signaled very clearly that the money that is paid back comes out of your earnings once you have graduated and are in work.’ It also seems that different courses at different institutions will have different prices. Willetts proclaims that he wants something that ‘links you to your university and the course you did at that university.’
So far, this looks like simply collecting variable fees through the tax system. But the Liberal Democrats will want some tweaks to this to make it ‘more progressive.’ How that is done without making the marginal tax rates of high earners uncompetitive in international terms is going to be the circle that the coalition has to square.