Skip to main content

Education: rationing by scarcity or by price?

The dread news comes through- conveniently enough just at the beginning of the negotiations for the new year's University funding- the UK has fallen drastically in the number of graduates per capita that it is producing. We are now apparently supposed to be shocked that such countries as Slovakia and Slovenia are now above the UK in the OECD ranking. Well, could it be that this is because these countries have only just joined the OECD, so their statistics are only now being included for the first time? In which case, the UK can certainly expect to be behind Estonia, when they join the OECD early next year, since about 40% of the Estonian population takes some kind of further education or training.

Even if there is a genuine problem, given the propensity, even willingness, of graduates from Slovakia or Poland to come to the UK, does it mean that there has to be any change in the UK-s overall competitiveness? The fact is that the British education system, though not quite such a bastion of Spanish practices and corruption as the United States, is still failing to deliver the right mixture of skills at the right price. It is quite clear that funding in certain sectors needs to be increased, but every time Universities get increases in funding, they tend to distribute it to the cheaper subjects- an awful lot of gender theory in theatre arts and not enough chemistry. Yet to argue with the Universities is to threaten their cherished "academic freedom"- a freedom that gives equal validity to queer studies and physics. If we are not producing engineers, at least the Slovaks are, and we can hire them.

In fact, I am clearly being over flippant- but unless or until either graduates are asked to repay the cost of their education, whether through direct graduate taxation, or some increment of income tax, or- better still- unless the Universities become genuinely independent of state control: especially in the way that they can charge fees, then University places will be rationed by scarcity and not by price.

It ain't pretty, but the choice really is that simple: Ration by price, or ration by scarcity.

Comments

Dilettante said…
Universities being able to charge market fees is the best approach - otherwise you simply penalise people who use degrees well.

Popular posts from this blog

The American National nightmare becomes a global nightmare

It is a basic contention of this blog that Donald J Trump is not fit for office.

A crooked real estate developer with a dubious past and highly questionable finances. he has systematically lied his way into financial or other advantage. His personal qualities include vulgarity, sexual assault allegations and fraudulent statements on almost every subject. 

He lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes.

He has, of course, been under criminal investigation practically since before he took the oath of office. The indictment of some of closest advisers is just the beginning. His track record suggests that in due course there is no action he will not take, whether illegal or unconstitutional in order to derail his own inevitable impeachment and the indictments that must surely follow the successful investigation of Robert Mueller into his connections with Russia.

However, all of that is a matter for the American people. 

It is also a matter for the American people that Trump is cheating…

Cicero ReDux

By Special Request of Baroness Scott and Mark Valladares... Cicero's Songs returns: bigger, longer and uncut.
October 1st marked the half way point of the Estonian Presidency of the European Union.  Perhaps for many people such an anniversary is of passing interest at best.  Yet the conduct of the Estonian Presidency is reinforcing just how forward looking and innovative the most northerly of the Baltic States has become.
Estonia is a country that wants to live in the future, and with its openness and innovation, that future seems a lot closer than almost anywhere else in Europe
It is not that Estonia does not “do” the past: the picturesque cobbled streets of old Tallinn have tourist crowds a-plenty enjoying the mediaeval architecture in an Indian summer of sunshine and blue skies.  The real point is that Estonia refuses to be a prisoner of its past. Lennart Meri, Estonia’s President in the 1990s- who spent years of his childhood in Siberia- once told me that the country had to conc…

Trump and Brexit are the Pearl Harbor and the Fall of Singapore in Russia's Hybrid war against the West.

In December 1941, Imperial Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor. After the subsequent declaration of war, within three days, the Japanese had sunk the British warships, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse, and the rapid Japanese attack led to the surrender of Hong Kong on Christmas Day 1941 and the fall of Singapore only two months after Pearl Harbor. These were the opening blows in the long war of the Pacific that cost over 30,000,000 lives and was only ended with the detonations above Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"History doesn't often repeat itself, but it rhymes" is an aphorism attributed to Mark Twain, and in a way it seems quite appropriate when we survey the current scene. 

In 1941, Imperial Japan, knowing its own weakness, chose a non-conventional form of war, the surprise attack. Since the end of his first Presidential term, Vladimir Putin, knowing Russia's weakness, has also chosen non-conventional ways to promote his domestic powe…