One Rule For The Rich

Observatory

It didn’t take long for the UK’s balloon-faced premier, formerly centre-right David Cameron to reveal his darker colours. This one requires a back-flip mindset; under new government proposals, universities in England will be permitted to make extra places available for rich British students. So if you’ve got enough wonga, you can grab a place after all.

The idea behind this? The proposal would free up publicly subsidised university places for poorer students. Under the current system, the government sets a quota for the number of places English universities are allowed to offer each year. From September 2012, universities in England will be allowed to raise tuition fees to up to £9,000 pa.

Universities wanting to charge more than £6,000 will undertake measures such as offering bursaries, summer schools and outreach programmes, ‘to encourage students from poorer backgrounds to apply’.

This unquantifiable benefit is obviously not merely cosmetic dressing, oh no. I ask myself, will a poor student and a rich student applying at the same time with the same grades be treated equally, or will one get in while the other is put on a list for an outreach programme?

Funny how the story has been left off the front pages of the right-wing press. If there’s one thing I’ve seen in a half-century of politics, it’s that nothing really changes. The Tories line their pockets, the Labourites get bogged down in committees, and the gap between rich and poor continues to widen.

For a wonderful snapshot of the eighties era of smash ‘n’ grab politics, read Jonathan Coe’s still relevant, still hilarious novel ‘What A Carve Up!’ or any Student Grant page from Viz.