I'm sat watching the tuition fees debate.
Whether you agree with increased tuition fees or not, there's some straightforward facts about the new proposals.
* The students pay nothing before they go to university
* The students pay nothing unless they are earning over £21,000 per year, compared to the current £15,000.
* Part time students will also be entitled to deferred fees, unlike at present
* On a salary of £21k, the annual repayments will be around £270/year
* After 30 years, the fees will be written off if not repaid
* If you lose your job, or leave work, you pay back nothing.
I think that's a good deal. In many ways, better than at present.
What irritates me, is the number of people complaining and protesting without knowing any of these facts, egged on by a Labour party who implemented the Browne report that effectively recommended these proposals, and have no fixed, sensible alternative proposals. I support anyone's right to protest, but you should do this based on a sound knowledge of the facts and not on something you heard in the pub. Furthermore, the argument that lower class people are going to be put off higher education because of the fees is surely not true - the proposals above mean that anyone can still go to university from a poor background, because the fee payments will only apply afterwards, if they earn a better wage - in theory - than they would earn without going to university.
As a Liberal, clearly it bothers me that we are, rightly, taking a battering for changing our minds. But the alternative is the break up of the coalition, another election, and either a Labour government who will continue as they left off and plunge our country further into debt, or a pure Tory government who will make deeper cuts, unchecked by a Liberal influence.
It would, of course, be very helpful if the press and media would concentrate on reporting the facts, and not on concentrating on reporting how angry everyone is. Right now, there is an excellent debate taking place in the house of commons, yet the main news channels are showing the protests and clashes with the police.
When our country is back on it's feet, I wish to see an increase in investment in higher education. Right now, I reckon this is a decent proposal, that's been amended for the better.