steepholm (steepholm) wrote,
steepholm
steepholm

Fee Foes' Five Thumbs

It's welcome (and embarrassing for the Westminster government) that the Welsh Assembly has announced that it will hold fees for Welsh students to their current levels, subsidising them if they choose to go to a more expensive university elsewhere in the UK. For one thing, it rather gives the lie to Clegg 'n' Cable's bleating about how the country can't afford not to raise fees. I'd be all in favour of the English Assembly making a similar declaration, except - oh yes, I forgot, England isn't big enough to warrant an Assembly. Or it's too big. Or something.

One strange side effect is that while English, Scottish and Northern Irish students studying at Welsh universities will have to pay the full £6-9,000pa, EU students from outside the United Kingdom will only be charged the £3,000 or so currently being levied on Welsh students. This is because EU law forbids discrimination in fees between states - but not within states. Thus, the Welsh taxpayer will be subsidising not only Welsh students at English universities, but French and German students at Welsh universities. I wonder how that will go down in Llanelli?

When the lunacy of our constitutional arrangements intersects with the hypocrisy of our higher education funding system and the bureaucracy of the European Union, you know that rational government remains some little distance off.
Tags: current affairs
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