Variable Higher Education Fees

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First email in opposition On this website I don't seek to represent the opinions of others or take their conversations with me out of context, so these paragraphs are some of what I have said in the context of discussion but with the discussion removed. These show emails to my MP Shona McIsaac, who can be easily described as a government loyalist.
Second email in opposition



First Email

To: MP
Date: Tue, 27 Jan 2004 03:21:28
Constituent: HE bill

I don't suppose you will (from previous comments) but I do hope you vote against the government on its Higher Education bill. I am someone who has benefitted from having fees paid and a grant in the past, and a regime of low fees for part time study in higher degrees, and also a training salary in university training. That was for my benefit, and others' benefit too financially and in many ways. That is what having a social view of why we have Higher Education is all about, and why it should be considered as part of lifelong learning and funded from taxation. If taxation is properly progressive, then people who benefit financially will pay: all those who benefit from public services do pay more in tax or save the public purse (except the very old, but we have a humane vision there too).

Universities want these top up fees, but they have a wider responsibility and are part of our society. They certainly need more funding, and some are more capable of gaining external and commercial funding than others. So let them do that, and build up funds that are unequal. But when it comes to students, they should not incur debts because they have been better educated. The government, against its manifesto pledge (that they would legislate against top up fees, not legislate for them even after this parliament), is doing no more than introducing a thorough market in higher education directly affecting student choices. This is wrong, and is not why I voted for you as a representative of the Labour government. In fact this legislation is yet another reason why I do not recognise this government under its present leadership as a kind of government I would vote for.

I hope you will be one of those to stop this government especially in this case taking its MPs for granted.

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Second Email

To: MP
Date: Tue, 27 Jan 2004 21:00:29
Subject: RE: Constituent: HE bill

If you are right that variable fees are not top up fees then many of your colleagues this evening did not agree. I think this is semantics: if there was a fixed fee and then fees vary they top up (and bottom down, if you like) but the objection is the market place and students in HE who invest in these lengthy courses, choosing on financial rather than academic grounds.

You know all these arguments.

Yes I follow commentary but I'm no slave to it. No one has yet said my thought (I'm sure they will) that to be well holed and still afloat can actually be worse than being sunk with a clean kill on one matter (even one made huge). To win by five votes is a mess for policy and also Tony Blair. There will have to be more concessions before the third reading, and the House of Lords is full of grievances because of how it has been treated (in a similar fashion). From the House of Lords it will bounce around, and by the third reading if it still has variable fees the very same people voting against and those who abstained to let it go on can then vote against. A quick kill would have made the difference here.

The Nick Brown thing and a few pals is fascinating because there is no obvious concession and people are bound to suspect the dark arts. If Gordon Brown was, in his (NB's) vital case, the important personality, then that afloat but holed sense goes on and even more so. It shows that knives are wielded at the timing of the hammock and knife holder. Or at least this situation allows something like this to be in the common mind - and this because (from my point of view, and your colleagues') of bad policy. Dark arts come via bad policy and handling.

But that is something else and the issue now is where this legislation is going; and as just one of your constituents I am expressing my own view that its outcome by the third reading should be as close to how I outlined my view of educational opportunity and social justice. We'll see how it goes.

Best wishes

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