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Last Updated: Friday, 17 October 2003, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
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Putting so many people into universities is the reason why it is harder to find a job with a degree and therefore not really worth paying tuition fees. By getting rid of silly Government targets and allowing universities themselves to charge for tuition, this would allow people to make reasoned choices about whether they want to go to university or choose a different path. Useless courses would naturally disappear and non-academic people would not be made to look stupid but would instead be able to go down a career path they actually enjoy. I would be happy to pay for my own course if I were allowed to borrow the money. Why should everyone else pay for my personal development?
Florence Heath, UK

I went to university in the 1970s and believe the country has received a huge return on investment simply in terms of the tax and NI I've paid let alone the other economic benefits. If the theory behind top up fees is to have graduates pay back more because they earn more, why will those from poorer backgrounds not have to pay them back? They too will gain the benefits of earning more so should be as able to pay back the fees as much as someone from a wealthier background.
James, UK

The programme totally failed to distinguish between the proportion of debt incurred from tuition fees and that from living expenses. Many watching must have come away thinking that the debt sums mentioned e.g. 10,000, 12,000, 15,000 etc. were incurred by tuition fees alone. I am an OAP retired teacher with two daughters at university. This year each has borrowed the 4000 maximum loan debt for living in hall or digs. The means tested tuition fee, which I pay, was only 205 for each girl. Peter Smith, Sussex
Peter Smith, UK

The principle of paying for your own higher education is absolutely right. People entering higher education do so to better themselves - and it is therefore unacceptable that they should expect someone else to pay for it.
Greg Smith, UK

A different but very good way of presenting the case for and against tuition fees by Panorama tonight. It is all very well for the government to want students to advance into further education by going to university, but many parents, including myself, do not want to see their children begin working life with massive debts against their name. Ordinary working parents will not be able to afford to pay these fees especially if they have more than one child. Many employers wish to see candidates for jobs having attended university, and I think that they should consider paying towards the cost of this education, if they wish for the candidates to attend university.

I do find it interesting that many of our politicians serving today who attended university did not have to pay tuition fees themselves or their families. I do find this unfair, as they now propose to make the students themselves pay, or their parents, for this further education nowadays.
Steve Fuller, England

Education is a right that should be free at the point of use. As a student my self I already 3000 in debt and I feel like there is a strangle hold on me and my education. I want to achieve my targets and not be in a great deal of debt. By the end of my 3 years I would have amassed a debt of over 10,000 I also want to do a masters. This country is supposedly a meritocracy. Why should the people who want to go further with their education have to pay for it?
Tom Stubbs, UK

Perhaps the massive subsidies granted to Oxford and Cambridge should be withdrawn and given back as tax cuts to working people. Why should bus drivers subsidise the favourable and differential funding received by Oxbridge?
Stephen Morris, England

With the issue of those from a poorer background paying less or no fees, there seems to be an inconsistency. If we are paying the fees "because we will benefit from them and should pay for it", then why doesn't everyone pay the same for the same degree? If two people are doing a degree, one from a rich family, the other from a poor family, after they graduate both will theoretically have the same potential earning power.

That said, if we have a system where two people with the same job, coming from the same university, but one from a poorer background, then one of those has to pay back 22000 from their 40000 salary, and the other is paying back maybe 2000 from the same 40000 salary.

If the government believes these people won't get jobs which can pay off the debt, then surely they shouldn't be encouraging so many people do go on to University.
David Walker, England

I found the notion that "not all of us can go to University" appalling. All skills, be it vocational or theoretical, can be taught at a higher level. What is more, a degree is not just about getting a job but also about developing one's personality.
Gregory Roumeliotis, UK

I'm a mature student now studying in the IOM, but previously a resident of the UK, your programme has been very interesting, but you failed to mention that a growing percentage of the student population are mature students, your programme has done nothing to address them, which i find disappointing, as I would suspect a great many of this group will or would have been watching tonight!
Neil Sanderson, Isle of Man

I'm so disappointed on the trivial way that you treated University fees programme. I'm afraid that on this occasion you have lower your standards to a degree that I ever thought possible for such a prestigious programme.
Manuel, England

Someone should have picked Charles Clarke up when he said "if you're a barrister you probably will have paid your debt off in year one."

No-one becomes a barrister immediately after university, or a solicitor. Law graduates must first do an LPC which will cost around 10,000 in fees and then another two years or so as a pupil/trainee. Other graduates have to do a post-grad conversion course as well. This does not include living expenses.

Some firms offer fee-paying training contracts, but they are few and far between. There are no grants available, so that has to be added to the undergrad debt. None of this takes account anyway of any post-grad study - who, with a debt of 33,000 in 2010 is going to be able to afford any kind of post grad course? So where will university teachers come from?
Priscilla Mann, UK

The Minister's argument that a student earns more fails to take into account the investment of working years they make. Four years pay, four years salary, that's ten percent of your working life, near enough. It's also something like a hundred thousand pounds income, and maybe ten thousand pounds savings.
Jeremy Main, GB

The answer to the question about what Tony Blair have in common was wrongly answered by Mr Woodhead. Tony Blair did go to Oxford University -St Johns College- but John Prescott went to Hull University. Before that he went to Ruskin College but that is an adult education college not a constituent college of Oxford University.
Bert Clough, UK

In your quiz, the main argument for (top-up) fees, and against raising tax/progression of tax, put forward by Labour is that those who go to, and profit from, university education should contribute towards its costs. This is denying the whole point of progressive taxation. Obviously, through progressive taxation, those who go to university and (financially) profit from it do exactly that, contribute towards the costs of the society, including university education (even in countries where no fees are charged).

The main question that is not mentioned by anybody is actually not whether students should pay for (the profits of) their education, but whether those who profit financially more from having gone to university should contribute more towards its costs than those who profit less (as in increasing the progression of taxation) or not (as in top-up fees).
A tax-paying Graduate, Finland

Tuition fees for University as a whole don't make any sense - they charge us over 1000 a year to go to university (possibly increasing as we know), but at the same time the government are paying some other people to stay on for A-Levels. What possible policy could mean that both these can exist at the same time? Either they want to encourage the less well off to stay on, or they want people to make a contribution to their education. To completely reverse the process from A-Level's to a Degree makes no sense.
David Walker, England

Surely the best way of making students pay after graduation would be via general taxation, that way all past graduates such as the MPs in favour of tuition fees which got their free education would also make the contribution for their education.
Stephen Wray, England

I was lucky to graduate in 1989 and only had 1,000 debts when I completed. Thanks in part to my parents who supported me and my getting numerous part time jobs to pay off my yearly debt. Without which I would have been nearly 4,000 in debt. Some how I managed to live on less than 20 a week, ignoring all other bills. This is less then a 16 yr old working 5 hours on minimum wage. Outrageous.

As a denizen of Liverpool/St.Helens, Merseyside my family and I where hardly paragons of worldly wealth. A modern student of the same region does not stand a chance. They will have 20,000 debt and only be earning 20,000 starting salary. Graduate jobs are hardly guarantees of income. This policy starts them on the debt ladder. No one will take up a graduate degree in these circumstances.
David Barlow, Basingstoke, UK

Mandy Telford is a Labour stooge. Like Charles Clarke before her, all she is looking for is a safe Labour seat. If she ever became a Labour Minister she would, like Clarke, soon change her tune to suit the prevailing political winds.
Chris D. Kelly, UK

What about the issue of morale in HE when it is so starved of funds? HE is the NHS in waiting.
Ray Johnson, England

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