Are students selfish?

studentsI don’t often like to write about politics on here, my belief being that it’s not really of interest to anyone else, nor their business.  Alas the student protest this morning about tuition fees has got my goat.

Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. Oscar Wilde

Here we had the sight of an estimated 20,000 students marching down the Strand demanding that someone else pays for their education and it all kinda summed up a particularly worrying aspect of politics and the power minority groups hold over it.

Now I should state at the outset that I don’t believe these protests will make a blind bit of difference, apart from ticking the ‘protest’ box in the things to do before you graduate list, but bare with me.

Lets do some simple maths here.  With tuition fees set to rise to a maximum of £9,000, lets assume that the cost of educating a university student is £9,000.  At the moment the student pays £3,000 a year, the state (ie us the taxpayer) funds the remaining £6,000.

If we expand those numbers out (in true back of an envelope style).

There are approximately 2 million British students in the UK.  So this subsidy costs the tax payer around about £12bn a year, or roughly £400 per working person in the UK.

Now if you had the chance to ‘earn’ £6,000 a year, or ‘save’ £400, which would make you work harder?  Which would make you protest more and badger those in power to get what you want?

And there you have the power of minority interest groups as the same reasoning is played out time after time.

Maybe in purely economic terms those students aren’t so much being selfish in demanding that £400 a year from everyone but being the rational individual of economic lore.  It is up to the government of the day to see past their noisy rhetoric and look at the interests of the majority rather than a vocal minority.  Thankfully in this instance it seems likely that the coalition government will do just that.


3 thoughts on “Are students selfish?

  1. Interesting article, I agree with the students that it is tough but there has been a tendancy recently for everyone to go to university and not necessarily studying worthwhile subjects. Maybe this will make university more prestigious and will encourage young people into the workforce earlier, without the graduate price tag. Times are hard and we are all paying the price, not just students.

  2. Hi Melanie, thanks for the comment. I agree that it is far from easy financially and you can see the fallout with the difficulties many are having getting onto the housing market. The fact is that university needs paying for if they wish to remain globally competitive, the question is whether that is paid for by the people using the service or others via taxation.

    You do raise a great point about other forms of education however and these other forms of learning might gain a bit more credence now and people won't feel compelled to do a degree even if it isn't of sufficient quality or suitability to their aims.

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