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Lallante
September 18 2012, 09:02:28 AM
Note: no (obvious) comedy option as this forum is srs bzns

Universities in the UK are generally underfunded. I'm sure this is true in most other countries too.

How should tertiary education be funded?

1. Private Funding
Each student pays his/her entire cost of university funding. Within this concept a university could choose to "socialise" costs so that all its students pay the same fee and the aggregate fees pay the university running costs, OR it could charge each student the cost of their specific course (which would mean science students pay a lot more). A major advantage is that shit universities tend to die as they aren't worth the money.

Universities could defray costs to students by building an endowment fund, IP rights from research done there. a property portfolio etc.

This option does not mean universities would need to switch to "private" in the current sense, they could still remain as present (i.e. not for profit) but with their funding fully from the students (though without any gov. funding there would be strong incentives to go private).

2. Full central government funding

This would mean taxpayers, not students, would bear the full brunt of the cost of education. This was the traditional model at least in the UK. The advantages are students are not discouraged from going to university as they do not need to meet any of the cost. The main disadvantages are that deciding how to allocate funding is difficult (is it by number of students, which encourages taking on low quality students on cheap courses, or by performance, which means bad universities stay that way, etc), and that many people who never go to university pay for others to do so.

Central government funding has historically been insufficient for universities to compete internationally with US private-endowment competitors. This is also a very expensive policy to fund centrally, and has the added risk of "trivialising" university attendance (people take uni less seriously or with less commitment due to having no personal financial investment).

3. Top up fees

The current UK model - some central government funding, allocated through a complex mechanism, with the students picking up (subject to a means test) a flat rate top up. I'm not aware of any universities that charge different amounts per course (most "top-up" at the maximum permitted level). Disadvantages are essentially all of those attributable to private funding AND public funding, though perhaps to a lesser degree.

The degree of top up is variable, and could be anything from a nominal disincentive to dropping out through to the majority of the course provision cost.


4. Graduate Tax

Under this model there would be an interim period where government picks up some of tab - graduates during this period would pay a small percentage (or flat amount) of their post-education income back to the university, usually subject to exceeding a certain income threshhold.

Advantages are that eventually this costs taxpayers/gov little/nothing without being a major disincentive to go to university. This system would also kill all bad universities, likely making competition for good universities extremely intense.

Disadvantages are that "academic" subjects which do not traditionally lead to high paying jobs would suffer - if a university can generate a lot more funding by having world class Law or Economics or Engineering courses than English Literature or Theology, then it will invest more in the former.

Dark Flare
September 18 2012, 09:07:58 AM
In my opinion a lot of the problem comes from Universities simply being overfilled. There are a lot of people at University who simply have no business being there. The Labour Government's "everyone should have a chance at Uni" thing is utter nonsense.

If it was under my control:
Lower fees dramatically, or even Govt. fund them entirely
Make University much, much harder to get into
Value of a degree goes up, benefit to those who make it through Uni is actually tangible again
Cost to taxpayer goes down as they're not needing to fund nearly as many people


University should be a place for the academically exceptional, not the financially exceptional.

Pattern
September 18 2012, 10:15:06 AM
By Tertiary education, you include not only universities but vocation specific training?

In a future wherin people are expected to readily retrain skills for a rapidly shifting job market - would you rather have that process as fluid and efficient as possible to aid this new age flexible work force, or would you rather have as many arbitrary barriers to this as possible because of idealism/morals or whatever disdain you have for whatever prescribed notions you have for particular people attending particular courses?

Smuggo
September 18 2012, 10:35:57 AM
For universities: Should be fully state funded but with much higher academic pre-requisites for students to ensure the most academically gifted can attend regardless of their background.

For vocational: State-subsidised apprenticeships. Pretty much as they are already operating today but should be better promoted as an option in schools.

Lallante
September 18 2012, 10:59:17 AM
Make University much, much harder to get into

How would you do this in practice (as central government)? Restricting funding to a limited number of places chosen by research/job output?

Lallante
September 18 2012, 11:01:29 AM
By Tertiary education, you include not only universities but vocation specific training?

In a future wherin people are expected to readily retrain skills for a rapidly shifting job market - would you rather have that process as fluid and efficient as possible to aid this new age flexible work force, or would you rather have as many arbitrary barriers to this as possible because of idealism/morals or whatever disdain you have for whatever prescribed notions you have for particular people attending particular courses?

The key question is whether the flexibility is directed by the state based on perceived future work force requirements (i.e. though funding places only to retrain in a direction the gov thinks worthy) or give individuals the flexibility to choose. Personally I think the former. I'd even set up a new Quango to oversee workforce retraining who would selectively fund what their research indicated were the useful retraining courses each year.

Lallante
September 18 2012, 11:03:10 AM
For universities: Should be fully state funded but with much higher academic pre-requisites for students to ensure the most academically gifted can attend regardless of their background.

For vocational: State-subsidised apprenticeships. Pretty much as they are already operating today but should be better promoted as an option in schools.

All measures of "academic gift" that have ever been tried that I am aware of seem to heavily favour upper middle class public school candidates. How do you propose avoiding this?

How do you deal with the related issue of a candidate with huge "potential" but who is some way from realising this potential due to poor schooling/home environment? (some kind of remedial courses?)

Smuggo
September 18 2012, 11:11:57 AM
All measures of "academic gift" that have ever been tried that I am aware of seem to heavily favour upper middle class public school candidates. How do you propose avoiding this?

How do you deal with the related issue of a candidate with huge "potential" but who is some way from realising this potential due to poor schooling/home environment? (some kind of remedial courses?)

As I've said many times before, your parents and upbringing are, and always will be, the main determining factor in your academic success. The reason these measures of academic talent tend to favour upper middle class people is because those people tend to be more likely to nurture their children's abilities and provide them with a home environment conducive to learning.

You can never catch everyone and inevitably gifted people will not achieve due to their life circumstances but that's just life. The state still should provide for those who do achieve though, regardless of background.

Dark Flare
September 18 2012, 01:44:41 PM
Make University much, much harder to get into

How would you do this in practice (as central government)? Restricting funding to a limited number of places chosen by research/job output?

Up the entrance requirements in terms of A-Level results, make A-Levels harder.

I would probably do away with ridiculous courses too (i.e. the stuff that's better learned on the job rather than at uni), though if Uni was much harder academically to get into perhaps the people taking those courses wouldn't make the grades anyway.

Lallante
September 18 2012, 02:31:56 PM
Make University much, much harder to get into

How would you do this in practice (as central government)? Restricting funding to a limited number of places chosen by research/job output?

Up the entrance requirements in terms of A-Level results, make A-Levels harder.

I would probably do away with ridiculous courses too (i.e. the stuff that's better learned on the job rather than at uni), though if Uni was much harder academically to get into perhaps the people taking those courses wouldn't make the grades anyway.

Central government doesnt set entrance requirements or specify course content / topics. I'm asking you what policies you would pursue not what you would change with a magic wand, if you see what I mean.

Dark Flare
September 18 2012, 02:34:46 PM
Difficult to say, as frankly I haven't put much thought/research into the implementation of such a change as I know me saying we should have the change means diddly squat and it'll never be my problem to work out how to do it ;)

Lallante
September 18 2012, 02:47:53 PM
All measures of "academic gift" that have ever been tried that I am aware of seem to heavily favour upper middle class public school candidates. How do you propose avoiding this?

How do you deal with the related issue of a candidate with huge "potential" but who is some way from realising this potential due to poor schooling/home environment? (some kind of remedial courses?)

As I've said many times before, your parents and upbringing are, and always will be, the main determining factor in your academic success. The reason these measures of academic talent tend to favour upper middle class people is because those people tend to be more likely to nurture their children's abilities and provide them with a home environment conducive to learning.

You can never catch everyone and inevitably gifted people will not achieve due to their life circumstances but that's just life. The state still should provide for those who do achieve though, regardless of background.

So you wouldn't have a problem using a system not dissimilar to the existing A-level system to filter candidates? Would there be any artificial weighting towards state school candidates (lower grade requirements for example?).

It seems to me that a lot of people would have a problem with a system that would essentially perpetuate upper middle class elites at the expense of society.

Smuggo
September 18 2012, 02:51:33 PM
All measures of "academic gift" that have ever been tried that I am aware of seem to heavily favour upper middle class public school candidates. How do you propose avoiding this?

How do you deal with the related issue of a candidate with huge "potential" but who is some way from realising this potential due to poor schooling/home environment? (some kind of remedial courses?)

As I've said many times before, your parents and upbringing are, and always will be, the main determining factor in your academic success. The reason these measures of academic talent tend to favour upper middle class people is because those people tend to be more likely to nurture their children's abilities and provide them with a home environment conducive to learning.

You can never catch everyone and inevitably gifted people will not achieve due to their life circumstances but that's just life. The state still should provide for those who do achieve though, regardless of background.

So you wouldn't have a problem using a system not dissimilar to the existing A-level system to filter candidates? Would there be any artificial weighting towards state school candidates (lower grade requirements for example?).

It seems to me that a lot of people would have a problem with a system that would essentially perpetuate upper middle class elites at the expense of society.

I guess A-Levels... I can't really recall how rigorous they are but if they are suitable then yes. No weighting or anything. A smart kid can do will in a shit school (and arguably the school is only shit or good because of the inherent ability of its pupils).

I'd personally like to see more grammar schools. They provided an academic education for gifted kids from a variety of backgrounds and might help to some extent to reduce the impact of someone's upbringing in determining their outcomes in life.

Your last sentence is just :psyduck:

spasm
September 18 2012, 05:35:05 PM
Your last sentence is just :psyduck:
*snip*
He has to work a troll in somewhere

Your anime posts add nothing to this discussion.

TheManFromDelmonte
September 18 2012, 06:30:46 PM
4. Graduate Tax

Under this model there would be an interim period where government picks up some of tab - graduates during this period would pay a small percentage (or flat amount) of their post-education income back to the university, usually subject to exceeding a certain income threshhold.

Advantages are that eventually this costs taxpayers/gov little/nothing without being a major disincentive to go to university. This system would also kill all bad universities, likely making competition for good universities extremely intense.

Disadvantages are that "academic" subjects which do not traditionally lead to high paying jobs would suffer - if a university can generate a lot more funding by having world class Law or Economics or Engineering courses than English Literature or Theology, then it will invest more in the former.

I don't agree with this, killing "bad" universities and discouraging Media Studies will only happen if students choose not to apply to "bad" universities and choose not to study low paying courses.
But they don't, students are some of the least well informed people in the world to make a decision on what to study and base their life around.

You wouldn't lend 30K to a business run by an 18 year old who justs wants to have some fun for a few years. The students will always control the future work force, and they have to as they are it, but giving them control over the training of the future workforce too seems like a mistake. It would actually be good if the points you raise really happened, but knowing me and the people I went to uni with I don't think they are. There's no downside to choosing a doss course and if there were a lot of students wouldn't care or know enough to realise.
Computer Game Design courses would be massively oversubscribed. Wait, they are!

I need to give a proper reply to the rest of the post but this bit needed some focus.

Warpath
September 18 2012, 06:53:38 PM
Never really understood why a lot more UK Uni's do not seem to get involved in the serious research side of things and then spin off the results of said research into a business that has the potential to create an income for the uni's? Iirc Cambridge does something like this? but what about the rest? for instance Iirc Graphene was developed in Manchester? but are they actively trying to monetize it given the huge potential it reputedly has?

Lallante
September 18 2012, 06:56:47 PM
4. Graduate Tax

Under this model there would be an interim period where government picks up some of tab - graduates during this period would pay a small percentage (or flat amount) of their post-education income back to the university, usually subject to exceeding a certain income threshhold.

Advantages are that eventually this costs taxpayers/gov little/nothing without being a major disincentive to go to university. This system would also kill all bad universities, likely making competition for good universities extremely intense.

Disadvantages are that "academic" subjects which do not traditionally lead to high paying jobs would suffer - if a university can generate a lot more funding by having world class Law or Economics or Engineering courses than English Literature or Theology, then it will invest more in the former.

I don't agree with this, killing "bad" universities and discouraging Media Studies will only happen if students choose not to apply to "bad" universities and choose not to study low paying courses.
But they don't, students are some of the least well informed people in the world to make a decision on what to study and base their life around.

You wouldn't lend 30K to a business run by an 18 year old who justs wants to have some fun for a few years. The students will always control the future work force, and they have to as they are it, but giving them control over the training of the future workforce too seems like a mistake. It would actually be good if the points you raise really happened, but knowing me and the people I went to uni with I don't think they are. There's no downside to choosing a doss course and if there were a lot of students wouldn't care or know enough to realise.
Computer Game Design courses would be massively oversubscribed. Wait, they are!

I need to give a proper reply to the rest of the post but this bit needed some focus.

You've missed the point I'm afraid - with a Graduate tax "bad" universities and subjects dont die because noone applies to them or complete them, but rather because students who graduate from there end up with lower incomes and so dont generate as much "Graduate Tax" for that university compared with a University like Oxford, turning out Economics grads.

The 30k loan analogy doesnt quite work either - if the loan was fairly profitable, and secured against that 18 year olds income for life, and I had 10000 other 18 year olds in the same situation, the overall picture adds up. It doesnt matter if a few die and few never get a job - the rest pay enough back to make up for it.

To summarise the doss course point:
- they dont improve your career prospects
- students who pick doss courses are rarely ambitious
- such courses therefore wont exist under a pure graduate tax system in the long run because graduates of the courses are unlikley to generate any graduate tax for the university, and thus the course wont get funded.

I dont think you really understand how a Graduate Tax works - Computer Games Design courses would barely even exist!

Lallante
September 18 2012, 06:58:38 PM
Never really understood why a lot more UK Uni's do not seem to get involved in the serious research side of things and then spin off the results of said research into a business that has the potential to create an income for the uni's? Iirc Cambridge does something like this? but what about the rest? for instance Iirc Graphene was developed in Manchester? but are they actively trying to monetize it given the huge potential it reputedly has?
Because the problem is often this:
- Go to world class research Uni
- Do world class research and come up with incredible discoveries. Publish the academic side of this
- Leave world class research Uni
- Commercialise your previous discoveries, using your huge home-field advantage to beat anyone else trying to do the same
- Keep all the lewt or, more likely, sell the commercialised discovery to a big company.

elmicker
September 18 2012, 07:02:30 PM
For the majority of UK undergraduates the system is no longer top up fees, it's outright "private" funding through students, financed by low interest, guaranteed government loans. Outside of STEM students, and they're a shrinking minority, there is effectively zero central funding. Even those funded technical students still require cross-subsidisation from overpaying humanities students to be financially viable. Results in mad contradictions where a year of a science undergraduate degree will set you back 9k, but a masters wont even hit 4k.

Lallante
September 18 2012, 07:09:06 PM
For the majority of UK undergraduates the system is no longer top up fees, it's outright "private" funding through students, financed by low interest, guaranteed government loans. Outside of STEM students, and they're a shrinking minority, there is effectively zero central funding. Even those funded technical students still require cross-subsidisation from overpaying humanities students to be financially viable. Results in mad contradictions where a year of a science undergraduate degree will set you back 9k, but a masters wont even hit 4k.

Yes, and universities are still underfunded compared to other countries.

elmicker
September 18 2012, 07:14:23 PM
Well, yes, but right now that's primarily because the increase in revenue from the fees bump was a lot less than the decrease in revenue from the funding cut*. Hence humanities students paying 9k for courses that cost about 3k per student to run; without the overpaying humanities students the science departments (the money makers) would disappear.

*(and yet this overall funding cut is actually costing the government more money because michael gove can't do maths)

Anyway, if you want to go down that road, you've got to qualify the statement. Being less-well-funded compared to other nations is not necessarily a bad thing. The NHS, for example, prides itself for costing less per person than almost every other developed nation's healthcare system. The same is true of our higher education system (the good bits of it anyway). Universities take genuine pride in going toe to toe (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-19546206) with the hideously well funded American system on a relatively shoestring budget. You can't look at funding in isolation, it must be put in the context of the resultant performance.

TheManFromDelmonte
September 18 2012, 09:55:15 PM
You've missed the point I'm afraid - with a Graduate tax "bad" universities and subjects dont die because noone applies to them or complete them, but rather because students who graduate from there end up with lower incomes and so dont generate as much "Graduate Tax" for that university compared with a University like Oxford, turning out Economics grads.


Sorry I did miss the point, I thought you were talking about the graduate tax as implemented in the UK (soon..), where you pay a tax to the general pool after graduating. Not some other one where you literally pay back to the university.

Lallante
September 19 2012, 08:00:03 AM
You've missed the point I'm afraid - with a Graduate tax "bad" universities and subjects dont die because noone applies to them or complete them, but rather because students who graduate from there end up with lower incomes and so dont generate as much "Graduate Tax" for that university compared with a University like Oxford, turning out Economics grads.


Sorry I did miss the point, I thought you were talking about the graduate tax as implemented in the UK (soon..), where you pay a tax to the general pool after graduating. Not some other one where you literally pay back to the university.


I should have drawn this distinction - my bad.