In my excellent blog: http://piemandmu.blogspot.com/2010/10/on-higher-education.html I attempt to outline the mechanism I would have chosen to better link loan repayments to university leavers prospects, something the simple raise in tuition fee has failed to do. Indeed, given the difficulty with passing this particular bill one would have thought the coalition would have been more imaginative and less willing to offer poor student upfront concessions, rather than poor leavers these concessions.
The coalition can save the situation and it can do this by listening to the labour party (I know dear reader a kind word for are opposition in exile). During the debate, some labour MP’s suggested, what is a very good idea; that along with higher fees; universities enter into a formal and legally binding contract with their students laying out teaching hours, seminar hours and specialist hours for different courses (I.E. lab time for science students) as well as library opening hours and computer numbers. Cheaper course could offer virtual, discounted, teaching time or merely less of it.
We would set up a body to enforce these contracts, allowing student whose universities fail to meet there contractual obligations to obtain discounts or refunds, rather than penalties for the universities. Indeed, we could explode the three year monopoly which universities currently have by empowering university students to move university at the end of each academic year. Indeed private businesses could head hunt the best students for the best universities (to improve their own league table position) and relocate disaffected students for a small fee of course.
There is a further change we could make to how universities are regulated & funded. Universities should be encouraged to seek businesses sponsorship for each course by this I mean a business pay money and lend their name to courses in which they are involved in and which offer the skills the business require. Any wise student would seek these courses as they would clearly offer particle work focused skills in the future employment they seek.
I know people will write this blog of as the marketization of education or recognising the marketization of education but this is to expected when we try to grant higher education accesses to all and to fifty per cent of our population but regardless of the rights and wrongs of marketization the NUS opposition to it has injured students power and will continue to do so until we recognise that a market exist and we must empower students to use it to their benefit.