James Forsyth

The university funding compromise

The university funding compromise
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One of the issues on the horizon that has the most potential to cause problems for the coalition is how to fund higher education. The Liberal Democrats are opposed to fees and the Tory MPs and press loathe the idea of a straight graduate tax.

As Ben Brogan notes in his Telegraph column today, Vince Cable and David Willetts, the two ministers charged with working this out, are having a very civilised discussion about it. Oddly enough, it is — as I say in the magazine this week — the blue on blue rows in government that are most vicious.

My understanding is that the compromise the coalition will come to on university funding, will allow for it to cost different amounts to do different courses at different institutions — one of Willett’s key priorities. But in recognition of Cable’s desire for a progressive system, those who earn the most will pay slightly more. The system will look rather like the one operating at most US law schools where those who go to work for white-shoe commercial law firms subsidise the education of those who go on to become public interest lawyers.