Blair's worst week

Will Hutton & Tution Fees see the end of Prime Minister Blair

Yes
7
27%
No
19
73%
 
Total votes: 26
rts
Posts: 1639
Joined: Fri 15 Aug, 2003 14.09

Thu 15 Jan, 2004 16.06

So the date January 28th has been set for the Hutton report. All six parties involved, including the BBC, Prime Minister Blair and the Kelly family will get information about the report 24 hours before. Unfortunately for Tony Blair, that will be the day the commons votes on tuition fees, so a busy end of January ahead.

So what do you think? Will the Prime Minister go? Did he lie to journalists? Or should we not make any conclusion until the report is published. And more importantly, could this be the end of Blair...
Image
cat
Posts: 513
Joined: Fri 15 Aug, 2003 13.48
Location: The Magic Faraway Tree

Thu 15 Jan, 2004 18.12

Hoon is the fall-guy for Hutton, not Blair.

As for Top Up Fees, I'd be very surprised if he lost the vote. It might be tight, but I don't think as tight as everyone makes out.

The sad fact is, they're needed; universities in this country are seriously underfunded... and sorry to break it to students, but they have to pay up to get a top notch education.

Americans pay a fortune, and as a result enjoy some of the best universities in the world; Brits pay a pittance, and suffer some of the worst.
Neil Jones
Posts: 661
Joined: Thu 11 Sep, 2003 20.03
Location: West Midlands

Thu 15 Jan, 2004 22.15

[email protected] wrote:universities in this country are seriously underfunded... and sorry to break it to students, but they have to pay up to get a top notch education.

Americans pay a fortune, and as a result enjoy some of the best universities in the world; Brits pay a pittance, and suffer some of the worst.
This is what it ultimately boils down to, I mean we effectively want a top notch university suite in the guises of Oxford & Cambridge. The problem is we/government don't want to pay for it.

It's strange, I mean Gordon Brown can suddenly pluck £3 billion out of thin air with which to go and flatten Iraq but we can't find two pennies to rub together when it comes to funding this, that and the other, preferring instead to raise taxes and then STILL not able to fund this, that and the other properly. Something is wrong somewhere, surely?
User avatar
Sput
Posts: 7506
Joined: Wed 20 Aug, 2003 19.57

Thu 15 Jan, 2004 22.16

[email protected] wrote: The sad fact is, they're needed; universities in this country are seriously underfunded... and sorry to break it to students, but they have to pay up to get a top notch education.
I'm with you on this one, when I pass the Union in Manchester, there's almost always a (small) group of students, not just demanding no top up fees but abolishing tuition fees altogether AND restoring grants! Their logic is that they (well, we I suppose) are entitled to this because the people in government were lucky enough to have it. They seem to neglect there are rather more students now than there were back then, and it just makes their cause seem a bit..well..stupid!

The thing I really don't know what to make of though, is the fact that while they're standing on the steps of the union demanding their free money, there's a homeless guy who lives about 100 feet away. It says something, I'm not sure what though...


EDIT : After reading Neil's post, it's probably worth pointing out that £3 billion is a one-off thing, it'd be rather more than that to put every student through university free of charge for any amount of time.
cwathen
Posts: 1112
Joined: Fri 15 Aug, 2003 17.28

Fri 16 Jan, 2004 00.08

Americans pay a fortune, and as a result enjoy some of the best universities in the world; Brits pay a pittance, and suffer some of the worst.
It's not true to say British universities are some of the worst; many European countries specifically like British degrees rather than native ones, due to the amount of corruption in foreign institutions that makes many foreign degrees unworthy of the paper they are written on.

The argument for paying more for uni is a doubled edges sword though. In theory, if you take higher education you will be eligable for better paid jobs and so the money you have invested in your future will be paid back dividends in later life with fat salarys which your lesser educated counterparts don't have. In America, this does seem to more or less hold true. In the UK however, there are an ever increasing number of graduates who can't get such a job and end up back in some unskilled/semi skilled position which they could have gone into straight from school, often earning less than the people who aren't educated to degree level who have been able to have a 3/4 year head start and thus have got further into the company with less debts trailing into the bargain - when I do a temp job in a factory during the summer to get a few pennies and work alongisde graduates who do it for a living because that's the only job they could get, it's understandable that people are resisting the hykes on higher education charges, when they may not ultimately be of any benefit. When this is the sad fact now, the argument for paying for your education gets weaker if it isn't going to ultimately provide the big money job that it's alledged to get you.
It's strange, I mean Gordon Brown can suddenly pluck £3 billion out of thin air with which to go and flatten Iraq but we can't find two pennies to rub together when it comes to funding this, that and the other, preferring instead to raise taxes and then STILL not able to fund this, that and the other properly. Something is wrong somewhere, surely?
Yes that is always interesting, that the government is always completely potless except when it comes to a cause they really want to pump money into and then money just appears on the table out of nowhere. More a case of 'if we don't want to spend it we'll say we haven't got it' methinks.
were lucky enough to have it. They seem to neglect there are rather more students now than there were back then, and it just makes their cause seem a bit..well..stupid!
Indeed, there are more students now; there are TOO MANY students at university. A levels have now become virtually worthless with so many pupils finishing their GCSEs and going on to do them, degrees are going the same way.

Blind government targets to increase the number of students going into higher education with no consideration for the utter stupidity of these targets must stop. The way it's going now, universities have had to stop becoming academic institutions and turn into businesses (the university of plymouth is now a sprawling empire which owns virtually half the city) in order to cope with the vast expansion that's being forced on them to accomodate these ever greater of students, mickey mouse courses have had to be developed to make sure people can pass them with the minimum of work (aswell as the wider issuing of 'pass' level degrees - a pass award means you didn't even make a 3rd class degree, which means you couldn't attain even a 40% average - if you can't do that then what the hell are you doing in higher education?).

Like it or not, universities are academic institutions for academically strong people to develop their knowledge. That by definition means they should not be accessible to all. Unfortunately, some people are just not cut out for it, and more worringly some people are just wasters out to spend their student loan before getting a low paid unskilled job below the repayment threshold so they basically just get £4000 of free money paid to them for a year before ditching their course. The government shouldn't be seeking to double student numbers, they should be seeking to HALVE them (if not reduce them even more than that).

The old system where only a select few went to university wasn't all bad; the only problem was how the people who went were selected (i.e. status and money rather than academic potential). I firmly believe in making university accessible to all who deserve to go and are capable of getting a decent degree, but I don't believe that even half the people at uni now should be there (the number of people on my course who regularly miss lectures, are always trailing modules from the previous year, and talk their way through lectures not listening to the lecturer like they were in some year 9 class at school is quite astounding. 2 years ago there was even an incident where a lecturer threw someone out of the room for talking too much - just like at school. But this is supposed to be higher education, where people are there because they want to learn, not because they're forced to).

Get the decent people to get decent qualifications by all means, but get the crap out (of which there's a hell of a lot, however much various jumped up NUS officials don't want to admit). And this won't happen until the government seeks to CUT student numbers.
Dr Lobster*
Posts: 2013
Joined: Sat 30 Aug, 2003 20.14

Fri 16 Jan, 2004 12.12

cwathen wrote:In the UK however, there are an ever increasing number of graduates who can't get such a job and end up back in some unskilled/semi skilled position which they could have gone into straight from school, often earning less than the people who aren't educated to degree level who have been able to have a 3/4 year head start and thus have got further into the company with less debts trailing into the bargain - when I do a temp job in a factory during the summer to get a few pennies and work alongisde graduates who do it for a living because that's the only job they could get, it's understandable that people are resisting the hykes on higher education charges, when they may not ultimately be of any benefit.
But in the end, isn't this the problem? There isn't enough skilled jobs to go around? I've always been dubious of this 50% of students should go to university rule devised by new labour. It suggests, by implication, that 50% of all jobs require a university education, which is simply not true.

I think students should be made to pay for their university education, and then, maybe, they will think a little bit harder about whether they actually need one.
cwathen
Posts: 1112
Joined: Fri 15 Aug, 2003 17.28

Fri 16 Jan, 2004 14.33

But in the end, isn't this the problem? There isn't enough skilled jobs to go around? I've always been dubious of this 50% of students should go to university rule devised by new labour. It suggests, by implication, that 50% of all jobs require a university education, which is simply not true.
The way it's going though, employers WILL require a university education for their jobs - not because they need that level of academic knowledge, but just because it's going to become so commonplace to have one that anything less is worthless. Infact I could probably say that about myself. I do need a university education in the practical sense because for the career path I'm going down, no applicant who doesn't have one will be considered. And yes, I do need a bit more knowledge than I got from my levels, but do I ultimately need to know honours degree level material? Probably not. But because of the way the education system is, if I don't have it I won't get anywhere.

It's allready happened with 16+ education; the value in GCSE's these days is as a step ladder up to some higher form of education, in themselves they won't get you a career any more high flying that being a checkout assistant at Tescos. In actual fact they provide their holders with an excellent all round ground in many skills, and whilst they don't directly qualify anyone for a particular job, they do provide a basis on just which a small amount of company training (which would be provided to you anyway regardless of your external qualifications) can turn you into a skilled worker capable of commanding quite a respectable pay packet - for probably as much as 50% of UK jobs, GCSE's alone really are enough.

Of course it doesn't work like that, becausethe government has decided that they want everyone to go onto 16+ education (why they don't just extend compulsory schooling up to 18 I don't know; it seems to work just fine in America like that). Whilst there are now many more vocational courses, the most popular route for 16+ education is still A levels. And A levels, despite what gets bandied around, do still represent some quite high level knowledge. The opportunity to focus on a smaller number of subjects and teach at a level beyond that of some of the original year group means you can get through quite a lot in those 2 years and if you work hard and get decent grades, you will hold a lot of fairly advanced knowledge which would directly apply to a lot of jobs. Certainly not all jobs need A levels, and of those more professional jobs which now view a degree as a must have, A levels actually do actually provide enough knowledge for the candidate to be suitable for the job. Indeed, many people say that they find a degree easier than a levels; and it is true that you can often blag your way through and get some sort of pass at a degree, whilst with a levels you really do have to work hard just to get to a grade C.

of course it doesn't work like that, no one who wants to do anything with their life will call it a day at 16 because GCSE's won't get you any decent job, and so A levels and other 16+ qualifications have now become pretty much a standard progression route for everyone who is interested in a life other than being a professional benefits claimer.

What that has now caused is for 16+ qualifications to become almost ubiquitous amongst job applications, so now you need a degree to give yourself an edge.

When this becomes more and more commonplace, will their really come a time when almost no one leaves education before 21? Will it get even worse when no one will be able to get a good job with just a batchelor's degree, but everyone will go and get a masters too?

I think that at the entry level to formal qualifications, the GCSE, the advanced tiered should be a bit more advanced to make them more viable as qualifications in their own right, A levels could then become the next level up which makes professional careers available to people who have them, and then university is reserved for people who really need to have such a high level of knowledge.
I think students should be made to pay for their university education, and then, maybe, they will think a little bit harder about whether they actually need one.
Maube that's one way of doing it, but as I said above a renewed interest in promoting (to employers and students alike) what's actually possible with sub degree level qualifications, rather than forcing everyone down a path of getting a degree because they won't get a decent job without one.
intheknow
Posts: 23
Joined: Sun 02 Nov, 2003 15.40

Fri 16 Jan, 2004 15.50

I was expecting Blair to lose on Tuition Fees, but Hutton has almost certainly put stop to that...at least for now.

I think that many of the rebels will now abstain rather than vote against, and some will probably vote with the government. Then, when Hutton is out of the way in a few months, the bill will come back from Committee stage, and the rebels will appear again, and an amendment to the bill will be passed which will remove the variable top-up fees from the bill, or it will be voted down at Third Reading. Whether Blair will then withdraw the bill if amended rather than let it proceed without top-up fees, who knows.

Even if that amendment fails, the bill will not become an Act of Parliament in this session of Parliament, the House of Lords will put stop to that. Blair should not have pissed off their lordships in the last session.
intheknow
Posts: 23
Joined: Sun 02 Nov, 2003 15.40

Thu 22 Jan, 2004 16.20

intheknow wrote:I was expecting Blair to lose on Tuition Fees, but Hutton has almost certainly put stop to that...at least for now.

I think that many of the rebels will now abstain rather than vote against, and some will probably vote with the government. Then, when Hutton is out of the way in a few months, the bill will come back from Committee stage, and the rebels will appear again, and an amendment to the bill will be passed which will remove the variable top-up fees from the bill, or it will be voted down at Third Reading. Whether Blair will then withdraw the bill if amended rather than let it proceed without top-up fees, who knows.

Even if that amendment fails, the bill will not become an Act of Parliament in this session of Parliament, the House of Lords will put stop to that. Blair should not have pissed off their lordships in the last session.
Well, Blunkett let one out of the bag this morning by saying that if the tuition fees vote was held today, this government would lose.

I haven't got a clue which way it will go anymore, apparently their are still more than 80 Labour rebels, enough to defeat the government if all opposition parties vote against, as is likely.

If Blair loses the tuition fees vote, it is likely that Michael Howard would move a motion of no confidence in the government, in the House of Commons. This would either be held the day the Hutton Report is published, or the day after. This has the possiblity of an adverse effect on how this would go.

Suffice to say, if Blair loses the no confidence motion, the government will fall, and a general election will be held. Ironically, this is how the last Labour government fell, when they lost a no confidence motion to the Conservatives, heralding the beginning of the Thatcher government. Blair might decide to step down instead of facing the no confidence motion, and taking the Labour party into an unexpected election where they could face an unexpected defeat.
Neil Jones
Posts: 661
Joined: Thu 11 Sep, 2003 20.03
Location: West Midlands

Thu 22 Jan, 2004 17.56

According to http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3420883.stm it really could go either way. From that page, 132 MPs who originally said they would vote against tutition fees were contacted in a BBC survey. 43 didn't take part, three would abstain and 16 were undecided. 62 will still vote against the plans.

So if it only needs 81 MPs and all opposition MPs to vote against to lose it then it only needs all those 16 undecided and three others and the vote will be lost.

Plus of course we've got the Hutton inquiry publication next Wednesday. Which way this will go remains to be seen but I reckon this will fall mainly at the government's door although I don't believe the BBC will get off scot-free either.

As for a vote of confidence - again who knows? Depends on the outcome of the tuition fees vote and Hutton and (general election-wise anyway) Iraq WMD issues. Could see history in the making over the next week though - time will tell.
Please Respond