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Thursday 9 December 2010

Verity Murphy | 13:16 UK time, Thursday, 9 December 2010

Here's Kirsty with more details on tonight's programme:

Today is a critical day for the future of university education in England.

It is set to be long remembered as the day the government trebled tuition fees for universities in England amidst protests by thousands of students in London and in other cities.

Many of the students are peaceful, but as I write I'm watching students and police clash in Parliament Square, and mounted police have just charged towards the protestors.

Tonight Newsnight devotes the whole programme to tuition fees, to the politics - the Liberal democrats who will abstain or vote against in line with their manifesto commitment, the protests - are they getting out of control at Parliament and are we witnessing the passion and anger of the students or infiltration by agitators? And how have the police responded - have their tactics been well thought through?

And the biggest questions of all - what are universities for and who will they educate in the future?

The Newsnight studio will be filled with politicians, students and academics, and we'll have live reaction from a university campus as we try to make sense of the day and how it will change university education in the 21st Century.

Join me for all that at 10.30pm.


  • Comment number 1.


    There is a general assertion that Britain is a 'representative democracy'. As far as I can discover, such is characterised by elected individuals who absorb the people's broad views and wishes, delivering to Parliament (with some inherent discretion) the essence of those views and wishes.


    The campaigning politician, with very few exceptions, presents to the constituency-voters (in a tiny window of availability) as a duality: PERSON AND PARTY – rosette power and rosette-stand cipher?

    The choice, in those few weeks, is presented OVERWHELMINGLY as a choice of PARTIES, with a veneer of personality. Indeed, the prospective MPs have all been PRE-CHOSEN by party-machines, and are thus beholden. Is not the truth that the ‘rosette stand’ supplicant is of little relevance AS A REPRESENTATIVE PERSON IN PARLIAMENT? (Representation in local matters, is quite outside this enquiry.) Elections might be more valid if their ROSETTES subsequently lined the benches in Westminster!

    By my observation, the newly returned MP can 'go for' promotion within the Westminster system (with diminishing primary allegience to constituents) or, defying whips and dogma, resign themselves to a life 'on the back benches' but, perhaps, with greater HONOUR?

    I have long concluded that parties are inimical to representative democracy (coalitions the more so?). The only way forward is to introduce an increasing number of independent MPs, until a critical mass is achieved and can SPOILPARTYGAMES. Only then might feudal Britain awake to the realities of the modern world.

  • Comment number 2.

    I would be interested to know how much the politicians who support this policy, paid for their university education! how much debt did they start their working life with?

    Fact is that many in this government went to schools that charge over £20 000 a year, they then went on to get a free university education.

    Do they not see that any argument used to justify todays students paying more also imply that THEY should pay more?

  • Comment number 3.

    In a lunch-time news item the higher fees were said to be justified because of the big rise in the number of students attending university, now over 400,000. What are they being taught if exceptions have to be made to the Government's immigration policy because of a shortage of skills?

  • Comment number 4.


    What a clear, solid point of reason Petros. However, it is now depressingly apparent that reason has no place in politics - only WINNING. In that respect, Westminster politics is very close to the practise of LAW (not to be confused with JUSTICE, except in our courts).

    Those politicians who do not take a PPE course, often study (and fail in?) LAW - an amoral game off WINNER TAKES ALL. Westminster has far too many, so minded. They even manage to fall foul of the law they practise! Cue for a pun.

  • Comment number 5.


    Blair stood on a policy of no introduction of tuition fees and a target of 50% of school leavers attending university.

    On election, he introduced tuition fees after converting almost overnight a host of technical colleges and colleges of further education to - you guessed it - universities; hey presto! I was once a technical college student, now I am a university student.

    However, as a consequence of this Fettes old boy's prestidigitation, all the technical college and college of further education teaching staff became university lecturers overnight and joined the (substantially) higher pay scales. In an attempt to obfuscate the original sleight of hand, tuition fees were introduced.

    Let's be clear; the introduction of tuition fees was a politically opportunistic tactic, long since pickled into a form of natural law by all parties.

    Of course it is completely unnecessary to charge tuition fees; would the higher education budget double or triple if fees were abolished?

    Even at 20 billion plus, higher education would still only equate to less than 20% of the NHS budget, and who knows what percent of the overall cost of EYEraq and Bushblairistan.

    This is an artificial political squabble; the real decision in the national interest would be to abolish tuition fees altogether, return to a dual academic and vocational approach to higher education, something which seems to work for Germany, for example, and finally, finally see the Blair regime as one of half baked political opportunism from start to finish, the legacy of which we really do need to start clearing up instead of choosing its sorry detritus as some sort of pseudo political battleground.

  • Comment number 6.

    It is not often I find myself in agreement with an English territorial cheese but barriesingleton makes a good point in #4; it really is all about winning.

  • Comment number 7.


    Sold to a gullible public as 'affordable home ownership' it actually was part of strike busting. When you lived in philanthropic council housing, you had to misbehave to extreme, before being booted out. Once you owned the house, and had a mortgage with the 'Draconian Mortgage Company', a few missed payments and you would be out. Voila - strikers tamed.

    English territorial cheese? 'Ee (by gum) damn'? I was going to applaud your #5 Kash, but it would look like coalition so I'll pass. (Well said though.)

  • Comment number 8.

    bet the Tories absolutely HATE facing such a clued-up Public. Poor Dears. The Peasantry aren't supposed to have such a good grasp of issues, are we?

    well, once we've had a Tory Govt preventing the poor from going to uni, then college, then ending State Schooling altogether, i guess we'll quickly get back to the "proper state of affairs".

    forelocks at the ready, people.

  • Comment number 9.

    " I write I am watching students and police clash in Parliament Square and mounted police have just charged towards the protestors."

    Not exactly Grosvenor Square, or the poll tax riot, K, just hissy fitting providing baton practice for the bizzies."Not my hair,please,not my hair!!"

    And who was that guy allegedly leading some protest against tuition fees - what was that accent? Surely not a foreigner?

    Do we live in such cosseted, precious times that some teenagers strolling about London are portayed as storming the Winter Palace?

    Who is Gareth Thomas, then? Allegedly the Shadow Business spokeshuman.
    More like Ben Elton on a bad night at the Glasgow Pavilion.

    Laugh? I nearly did.

  • Comment number 10.

    I see today as the day the lib dems ceased to be.
    the lying over the pledge is a given, but i am surprised they are letting themselves be rolled out again and again to defend this appealing policy, They sound like unregulated insurance salesmen, "your monthly payment will be reduced" when we all know the total debt is huge , its appalling and meanwhile the Tories sit back letting them take all the flak whilst they implement their ill thought out policy.
    With the current level of organisation, I can see students ensuring any lib dem MPs are voted out at the next election. they have no one else to blame but themselves! bye bye lib dems!!

  • Comment number 11.


    I fully expected an online pledge-site to be installed by now. I heard the idea mentioned in passing (a Radio 5 phone-in I think) but did not find one anywhere.

    We could further pledge not to apply the Clegg Protocol, once signed up.

  • Comment number 12.

    I find the debate over the tuition fees is lacking critical depth.
    Universities have been business for hundreds of years , it is true in recent years their main client has been the UK taxpayer via the benevolent state, but now I suspect they will be taking more advantage of the European single market of 500 million people, this is a game changer moment for funding.

    Some MPs say the UK taxpayers should continue to subsidize universities of up to 75% of their course fees, other say the UK taxpayer should reduce this down to only a 50% subsidy.

    The big loser , as always , is the UK taxpayer , milked in the name of “interests” that most do not share nor benefit from.

    My Suggestion -
    If government wants to subsidize universities fees for UK school children , then they should give schools the money so they can give 100% free grants to 5% of their most academic students.
    Any others that deem themselves academically gifted can go to a bank for a loan or convince their employer of the benefits in sponsoring them as a part time student.

    This way around the UK taxpayer does not end up financially backing non UK school children's university education (which is currently the case), because there is “no discrimination based on nationality” involved and therefore complies with community law. There is also no perverse financial incentive for graduates to leave the country as to avoid paying back their student loans and avoid living in a high taxed environment (which is currently the case).

    If we want to compete in the global market , we have to keep living costs (taxes) down or workers will rightfully seek redress in their pay negotiations , this undermines the competitiveness of our services and goods which we need to sell to the worlds consumers to enrich ourselves.
    Failure to keep living costs down would have a negative effect on productive job creation within the UK and will increase the costs (taxes) needed to manage the social failure, in fact a repeat of the Labour years !

    Put simply , if productive jobs can be created for young people , there will not be a large NEET problem to solve and therefore we do not need a large, expensive and somewhat Machiavellian NEET fix.

    Well that is my views on the matter.

    Can we now get onto the likelihood of the UK taxpayer having to help bailout the Eurozone please ?

  • Comment number 13.

    Yesterdays NN
    China and a prize.

    Why do we in the west bang-on about the virtues of liberal democracy, its not all its cracked up to be. Can you imagine China as a democracy? a billion plus people having that 'freedom'. China ain't perfect but God help it if it ever went down the democracy route.
    As for the Nobel prize, didn't they give one to Kissinger? didn't Al Gore pick one up as well? I do recall they certainly gave a third rate president a Nobel prize..and for no good reason, even the president himself wondered why he was awarded with one.
    I hear the Chinese have come up with their own award; its called the Confucius award. Good! Confucius never blew anything up, so I already rate this new award over that other silly award that only gets given out to folk with either blood on their hands or lies to tell...oh and the odd president.

  • Comment number 14.

    Why can we find £100 M+ in tax breaks for private schools for a tiny number of rich kids, but only £150M for "scholarship funding" for the whole nation's "poor children" to go to university?

    Clearly this tax break for so-called "charitable" private education for the rich cannot be afforded anymore and therefore it should end, just as 80% cuts in subsidised higher education are now deemed to be "necessary".

    However if the Tories thought an incoming Labour government would really do this, they might think again about £9k annual fees....

    Come on Ed - show them the stick!

    The British public would be right behind you and it would so rattle the Tories that they would rein in their libertarian wing and show them that if they start a class war, they must expect VERY expect painful casualities....

  • Comment number 15.

    I suspect that most students going to university will have their heads stuffed full of eco-fascist propaganda anyway, Newsnight obviously avoiding reporting anything from Cancun, this is a report from a genuine British politician who is there. And I believe that those nasty mega wealthy eco-fascist Norwegians are putting their oar in this time around.

  • Comment number 16.


    ..Surely not a foreigner?..

    a lot of demos are/have been led by foreigners. Tariq Ali anyone? Communist and anarchy groups seem to have a lot of non british leadership? From Marx on down.

    is the right to protest the same as the right to riot? if not then anyone rioting must expect a lawful counter force more violent against them.


    Anyone using their internet connection to launch mob rule cyber warfare are breaking their internet t/c and should be disconnected and banned from having it. they have to know this is a two way game.

  • Comment number 17.


    the university model is a 12th 20th century model. no need to to support it. anyone 'poor' can do a distance online course.

    when printing came it put an end to scribes. if i was doing a course today i wouldn't need to apply for residential. that just was not the case even 20 years ago.[except for OU]

    tuition fees are a stupidity tax. no one is denied knowledge. what people want is to be subsidised to drink and go to parties and live away from home. well that is for rich people. Tax money is for the poor and needy not to support middle class lifestyle choices.

  • Comment number 18.


    As 50%+ of the population goes into higher education, you are saying that they are all stupid - somewhat of an arrogant view to take on the majority of the population, I'd suggest.

    As someone who pays my kid's living expenses whilst they do science and technology degrees that require access to expensive laboratory equipment to do their chosen courses in subjects like evolutionary biology and genetic engineering, I view your comments as puerile, prejudiced, ignorant and completely out of touch with the reality of advanced learning in the 21st century.

    You are a victim of tabloid journalism - your simpistic view of the world is quite dangerous and reminds me of Mein Kampf's railing against liberal intellectuals as decadent and wasteful.

    Yes online has things to offer - but there is a lot more to growing up and honing skills than simply ingesting facts.

    It's our nation's future we are talking about here - unless we stay up there with the best in the world in both quality and quantity in higher education we will lose our competitive edge - people like you are undermining our future and you should examine your conscience befire making trivalising comments like this.

  • Comment number 19.


    interesting name calling. even got hitler in there.

    is that the product of the said education model? money wasted then? goes to show its not necessary?

    i am flattered you think my posts carry weight.

    no one has a 'right to tax money' to prop up outdated lifestyles.

    tax money doesn't fund driving lessons and one could argue that is a more useful skill than media studies?

    if you examine my previous posts i do say state funding should be related to national skill shortages.

    for others to demand my tax money for none essential lifestyle choices is a curios kind of arrogance? if people want my tax money then i have a right to say what its used for? It seems i am being dictated to? Its not me with the moustache.

    you are free to do what you like with your money. If you want mine then i have a right to speak.

  • Comment number 20.

    ...The committee recommends Mr Hoon's pass be suspended for five years for a "particularly serious breach"....

    shame this story won't see the light of day

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.


    Certainly you have the right to speak your mind - a lot of people have died over the centuries to protect it.

    The trouble with libertarian views is that whilst demanding your independence and expecting your money to be sacrosanct, you can only do so because of the society around you: a society that only exists because of government intervention and progressive taxation and social policy, which at every turn was opposed by reactionary elements who rubbished every progressive step.

    Unless you inherited your money, that is.

    Higher eduction - warts and all - is a massively progressive force - it challenges young people and develops their potential - and in an economy with such a high level of unemployment, what the hell else is there for them to do?

    I'm against "sheep dip" lectures - video it and put it online - take the underpinning knowledge components in courses and deliver them through e learning - rationalise tutoring by location not institution - there are plenty of cost savings out there, but don't circum to the "it's all rubbish" generalisations and over-simplifications.

    Public debate is great - but we all need to take firm hold of our moral compasses and try and make sure we are contributing to the quality of the debate and not just indulging our prejudices.

    To come up with statements like "fees are a stupidity tax" plays right into the hands of those who want to smash the welfare state so that they can get even richer whilst impoverishing the majority of the population - producing a reasoned, objective argument to reform higher education for the better is a worthwhile contribution of real value.

  • Comment number 23.

    Vince Cable says he supported his party's policies on tuition fees but that because of the coalition agreement they can no longer commit to them. What I'd like Vince to tell me is who voted for the coalition agreement - the answer is nobody. People voted on the basis of party manifestos and both Lib Dems and Tories have abandoned most of the commitments in these documents. This is not democracy, it's do whatever you want once you've got power. The House of Lords should be voting down all legislation that didn't appear in the party manifestos

  • Comment number 24.

    Bring in a retrospective tax on all these succesful people who had their free education and are now telling everybody else they need to pay - perhaps people might go along with it when they see people who have benefited are contributing

  • Comment number 25.


    tax money is for the poor and needy not the rich and greedy.

    with current technology there is no need for anyone to go without an education. but that does not mean they have a right to a particular expensive delivery model of it.

    the best lectures by the best professors are often online for free. surely a potential 'oxbridge' education for all is better and more progressive than 3 years spent snogging through the freshers at some 'chiswick university'?

    people don't want education they want to booze. Fine. they can do that without tax money.

    as modern distance courses with live interactive chat seminars and tutorials, skype video links etc have demonstrated the full time residential model is not essential for much of education. Those who think it is the only model are paying a stupidity tax just as those who think the only place one can buy a dvd is Harrods.

    so by more intelligent use of a scarce resource [money] more people could benefit from the finest lectures from the best professors. everyone could 'go to oxbridge'.

    imo those demanding all the money be squandered on an outdated expensive delivery model that does not and has never filled the uk skills gap are not being 'progressive'. the current model does not deliver for the nation.

  • Comment number 26.


    its a myth

    very few didn't pay. self employed like farmers kids etc mainly who could fiddle the books so it looked like they had no income.

    also if we went back to the real exams that existed then how many would pass? in those days the exams were designed to always keep the proportion who went to university the same. so if in one year lots of people 'passed' they would up the grade scale bands to restore 'the balance'.

    so with the same mark you could have got an A one year and a B the next.

  • Comment number 27.

    The BBC have reported the mounted police 'charged' the demonstrators. Not true the same TV coverage shows the mounted police 'trotting' forward. Anyone who was 'kettled' if they weren't trouble makers were associating with the 'rent a mob' element in Westminster square, the demo was orginised to follow a path down Victoria embankment. The police 'kettled' the crowd in Westminster square after over an hour of sustained violence, more than long enough for peaceful demonstrators to get clear of the trouble.

    Secondly, we're back to the same situation of the youth wanting their rights but without the responsibility that comes with rights. They want the right to a free university education without the responsibility of having to pay for it. 20 years ago less than 10% of 18 year old school Today it's nearer 50%. Why should the tax payer pay for people to study golf course management, surfing (sea) and media studies. Students from under privileged backgrounds still have access to scholarships, the problem is the noise of the squeezed middle classes. We as a nation have no money, we can't afford to maintain the current levels of expenditure, in all government departments. The Navy has had to sacrifice it's aircraft carriers until 2018. I can't think that anyone would think that the nation needs more graduate surfers and golf course managers than aircraft carriers. We are a nation of greater equality of opportunity than America, it's a change in expectation,in America parents save for a college fund, to pay 'up front'. The proposal is to pay after college. My feeling is that people who have to pay upto £27k for their education will take it seriously, instead of horsing around at the state's expense. I'm sure there will be a higher percentage of self funding students complete their degree, than state funded students, an illustration of responsibility.

    The one point I would concede is the lack of vocational training (formally know as apprenticeships) with day release. Youngsters that would have followed a vocational path are now pushed into a degree path, studying second rate courses, devaluing the achievement of first rate degrees. Society needs chiefs and indians, re-enforce the value of the tradesman/craftsman/artisan. We forget the dustman/sewage worker contributes as much to public heath as the brain surgeon.

    The country doesn't need (and cannot afford) to send half the school leaving population to university. University is considered as a right of passage, we all grow up regardless. Without £40k of debt we can become self sufficient (grow up) faster. People that start work at 16 understand the basic working culture 5 years before a 21 year graduate. Vocational training isn't second best, in many cases it could be better, watch 'The Apprentice'. Where's Lord Sugar or Richard Branson's degree. If people are going to succeed, the matter of a degree isn't going to stop them.

  • Comment number 28.

    ..The Russian government's senior official in Britain hinted this morning that any attempt to deport the parliamentary assistant detained for allegedly spying for Russia could result in tit-for-tat expulsions...

    a state only gets involved when they have been rumbled.

  • Comment number 29.

    27 pushed into a degree path, studying second rate courses,..

    yes while the best lectures from the best professors are online for all.

    if one is going to learn a subject it is rational to go to the best teacher one can find. it is therefore irrational to pay a lot of money [if money is to be paid] to take second best?

    all courses from the same examining board follow the same stuff. so why not get the best?

    anyone would think choosing to access to the best education from the best professors was some kind of poison.

    everyone could have access to the best education.

    textbooks are chosen from the best. why not lectures?

    i understand not the best universities would shriek at this idea because it does them out of easy state money. but they could still serve as local delivery for exams, summer camps, practicals etc.

    20 years from now everyone will wonder what all the fuss was about. it'll be the normal way of delivery.

  • Comment number 30.

    @#8: ah, i see.

    richard bunning, very well spoken. I wish you were in Parliament.

    but Murdoch and the Nazis having fun with our mass media, it might seem.

    london steve:

    "If government wants to subsidize universities fees for UK school children , then they should give schools the money so they can give 100% free grants to 5% of their most academic students."

    sounds good (seriously, i mean that). But will you also ensure that "the most academic" students are not also those from privileged backgrounds who are able to afford the private tutoring enabling them to be so "academic"?

    and also, most UK graduates from the UK, will probably stay in the UK labour market (as long as there is growth to create jobs), simply because of any language barrier - and also because the UK is simply more vibrant on many levels. Nightlife, music, culture, politics even, many are the reasons graduates will stay here. A graduate tax, an extra tax to pay or their education, will not lead to many graduates leaving the UK.

    EU students already pay fees, by their home country, i believe?

    #15: kevsey, Chinese democracy. You seem very afraid of people having freedom, shame. Why do you think so many would abuse it? A bit more freedom in the UK would probably have prevented the Iraq invasions, and lessened the chance of having the Govt we have got. Why do you think the Chinese would make less of it?

    #13: Richard, why do you imagine that Ed doesn't agree with everything the Tories have done? And they know that. So why would they take and "stick" from Ed, when they know it is all for show?

    #16: Jaunty: that is exactly what the authorities tries to do to Wikileaks. By the by, that is WHY the various groups have done it back in his 'infowar'. The Govts did it first. Supporters of Free Speech did it back.

    if this was the Muslim cartoons, and the US was a Mulsim nation trying to ban the spread, you'd be frothing at this exercise in censorship. Admit it.

    #17: Jaunty, didn't you go to college/uni? There is a vast difference when you are surrounded by other people, all intellectual, interested in, and wanting to discuss, high-level discussions. A synergy emerges than is greater than sitting in your room alone, with a PC. NOT disparaging that method of learning AT ALL, i also believe it has a part to play in the present and future, but there is a HUGE part to play in the progress of knowledge for students to be able to be in a formal study environment.

    you simply cannot understand unless you have spent at one of these learning/research institutions.

    as for "National Skill Shortages", again i tend to agree with you in principle. But "skill shortages" are also caused by Govt policy and investment. Understanding what is going on, requires political scientists working in journalism. Helping our young with their education, and working out what is going wrong in education, requires skilled pedagogues. Helping our population wit mental problems, or general psychological well-being, requires more psychologists. Building sustainable energy, requires more technicians and engineers.

    wherever the Got places its money, THERE is the "skill shortage". BUT, we *do* need to look at long-term, structural problems, and invest resources there.

    why did both the Tories and New Labour close down medical training schools, then import skilled medical labour from abroad?

    short-sighted stupidity and ideological commitment, thats why.

  • Comment number 31.

    OUTDATED (#22)

    Governance, State Aggression, Behaviour Control and Schooling are outdated. (Birth, mothering and nurture, in contrast, have 'advanced' to oblivion!)

    I recently posted to the effect that learning could be remodelled to great advantage - financially and in terms of outcomes. But Feudal Lords breed more the same; they LOVE institutional(izing) assemblies, and platformed address. There is no wisdom or philosophy in our culture.

  • Comment number 32.

    I'm not afraid of people having freedom. Imagine 1 billion+ having democracy. Unlike you, I can imagine how that wouldn't work. But for sake of argument, how would you imagine Chinese democracy? Would it be centralised Govt? How many political parties do you envision in this new democracy? would China be broken down into ethnic and tribal lines; historical and recent?...and factor in the high population numbers. Go on, pull me up a good model of Chinese democracy.

  • Comment number 33.

    ABC News's 'London' correspondent appears to have gone native, as all U.S. journalists do, at some point, when posted here. Apparently, without showing any evidence of this, the British government has 'declared war' on students.

    Strangely, there is always a noticeable difference in the impartiality of reports of domestic U.S. events (broadly impartial) and those from the U.K. and Europe (always a very evident bias), although this bias is more muted when events outside of Europe are reported. It appears to be restricted to anything European. The product of one correspondent?

    If you read this, ABC executives, perhaps it's time to bring him home, or rotate your journalists, a bit more, to stop them becoming a bit too comfortable.

    I only wish I could claim the reverse is true, also, i.e. British 'U.S.' correspondents suddenly discover balance, when posted to the U.S.

  • Comment number 34.

    When I've heard Clegg speak of education he is always talking of the early years and their needs. He is probably only too aware of the boom in the birth rate here and knows we will need thousands of new infant/primary schools. And with such an expanding population the number of young people going to Uni in the future cannot be afforded by the employed. The same way we will not be able to afford the pensions of the old.

    And before anyone shouts soak the rich, the top 1% pay 25% of the taxes, and the top 10% pay 50% in total, so without them they'd be big problems.

    The education budget is a limited pot of money, so they are putting more into the young children than they wish to put into the education of the middle classes.

    I believe the fiscal studies office looked into the proposals in depth, and their conclusion was that the poorest 23% would be far better off under the new system, than they are under the old one and would be able to go to Uni.

    The ones that will be hardest hit, as usual, will be the ones in the middle, the rich will have no problem paying for education, the poor get it free, but the middle get squeezed yet again.

    Why are the anarchists rioting, I didn't think they liked the middle classes!

    And speaking of middles, my middle child didn't go to Uni like his siblings, but earns twice as much as them, and looks shortly to be triple, there are other ways of educating yourself and getting on in life.

    If after getting a degree, and the student goes abroad to live and work, does he/she ever have to pay the fees back? Is that why so many of the brightest leave our shores? And will it happen even more now the bill is so high? 1.3 million brits working around the world at the last count. I know quite a few of them, in fact they've never lived here, but have a british passport.

  • Comment number 35.

    On the subject of student fees, we have now had weeks of opinion, from strident students to the 6 Jewish contributors (#29.tuesday, DebtJuggler) culminating in last night’s NN shouting match, in which the University Minister seemed in danger of being swallowed up by the huge open mouthed student projected behind him on the Newsnight big ‘edgy’screen: very Hogarthian!

    Now our Hon. MPs have made their political judgements, can NN please present us with some more serious statistical treatment of this subject?

    BBC is to be congratulated on a series of excellent programmes on the presentation of statistics in forms that illuminate the underlying message. Last night’s programme showed how Florence Nightingale developed charts that clearly revealed the fact of far more British soldiers dying from poor hospital hygiene than from battle. The enlightened British public then overturned the apathy (TALC) of the government and forced action to address this scandal.

    Above NN’s background ‘noise’ I did hear one clear signal - this ‘have-now-pay-later’ plan is a financial gamble by the government. Can BBCNN now get access to the statistics (from the Treasury, or Office of Budget Planning) on university student projections for the next decade, showing:

    Projected numbers from England and Overseas (plus privileged Wales/Scotland); and
    Projected numbers by the differential levels of taxpayer subsidy (eg Medical and Science v Sociology and Media Studies).

    Using Rose Charts and Pie Charts, rather than ‘edgy’ music and lighting, we should all be able to see whether the government’s gamble is likely to result in recovery of taxpayers’ up-front funding, and also how many graduates may never repay their fees, due to drop-outs and emigration.

    Do they also assume the ‘default’ situation of most overseas student remaining in UK after graduating and joining the non-taxable economy?

  • Comment number 36.


    Ecolizzy is on the 'money' as usual.

    I avoided the supposed 'improving' involvement with military (conscription was still in force) and university, but applied at least equivalent time and effort in understanding myself, and life-in-general. The returns I get on that investment serve me well.

    Britain needs to go into 'Special Measures', with a complete overhaul of its national psyche and culture. We are delusional in so many aspects of function (dysfunction) that we are a threat to self, and world, if left to our own bizarre devices.

    If you are tempted to dismiss that assertion, just dwell on each of our PMs in turn. BY THEIR LEADERS SHALL YE KNOW THEM.

    9/11 will yet unravel and Chilcot will plait a rope . . .

  • Comment number 37.


    i see no addition benefit if all the NN bloggers were in the same room [imagine that!]. With modern chat, video links etc one does not feel cut off or 'alone in the room'. It must be generational. the older types don't seem to understand the power of modern tech.

    after all my years in higher education i never once came across synergy unless it was in the bar. the lectures were poorly attended and coursework was generally copied. the general ethos was only an idiot tries to learn anything. who remembers most of it now?

    yes there is no national building plan. no skills plan. no jobs plan [because under the false beliefs of hayekism the market has the best knowledge]. we should be exporting skilled workers not importing them. In a zero sum game you make money by selling not buying.

    the uk is crippled by a guardian class smoking hayekism. so we can expect more riots of increasing severity, greater unemployment and greater poverty. The market is there to deliver profit not social stability. Depend on the market as a 'wise god' and the market will take all your money and leave you in the poor house.

  • Comment number 38.

    Don't let Cockybikeperson trouble you; the name describes perfectly the behaviour; a true child of Thatcher.

    Do the Beefeaters and the bizzies not communicate? They must have known for months old Chaz'n'gel were off to the Palladium.

  • Comment number 39.


    the state is allowed to do it back. they are the agents we employ to do such things. people seem to have elavated a website of stolen data to some second coming. He's not the messiah he's a very naughty boy.

    wikileaks supporters seem to be living some movie in their heads.

    the destruction by the bbc and others of investagtive reporting and turning journalism into sofa chat or press release rolling news has meant there is no vigilance . This has left the door open to data dumpers who say we don't really know is in there but there is bound to be some interesting gossip. which is not just illegal but irresponsible. which is why it attracts those who are attracted to those vices.

    wikileaks is what people are putting in their rizlas these days. you can literally see people getting 'high' as they speak about it. people on a high can inflict violence without restraint.

    anyone sabotaging the economy should have their internet disconnected. which in these days is like sending people into solitary confinement and makes life nearly impossible to conduct.

  • Comment number 40.


    ..Don't let Cockybikeperson trouble you; the name describes perfectly the behaviour; a true child of Thatcher....

    ah name calling. true lefty tactic when they have run out of ideas. given my exposing of hayekism hardly a child of thatcher?

    if my posts have no light in them then people will not be troubled? but if they do bring reason then i can't understand why some wish to perpetuate the darkness?

  • Comment number 41.

    The Crick did a Nick (Robinson) and went all dramatic. He mentioned something about comparisons can be made with the student uprising and the poll tax riots of 20yrs ago. Thats like saying the music of Steely Dan and the cheeky girls have something in common. How does Crick get away with this nonsense? I know the BBB Journos live in a bubble but i always thought they always had someone from outside that bubble feeding them some truth..its hard to watch sometimes, especially when i remind myself i'm paying for it.

    The Warkster said to a rather harassed looking Vincent Cable that the "poor are debt adverse"..yeah the poor are debt adverse, 40yrs ago..not today, the poor are up to their eyes in debt since the introduction of easy credit. The poor have been racking-up debt for years Kirsty dear. Having Argos catalogues pushed through their door in the 80s sent them hog wild; flicking the pages of that book of goodies and the smell of fresh print was an intoxicant for those poor folk, they could not resist.. and they wanted more than just a cloths horse. The poor went shopping and they've shopped - payed later - ever since.
    As for the ding-dong in the streets with upset students. They allowed their emotions to run away a tad too much ..but any support they have is only amongst themselves, the rest of us are not impressed. It wont be a good idea to walk the streets of this Island declaring oneself a student because that well known student hater Paul Calf has been lifting weights recently, he's hell bent on giving those rioting students (and part time drug dealers from the ghetto) a slap next time he bumps into them.

    Paul Calf:

  • Comment number 42.

    'what is to stop us selling drugs on the street? nothing'

    the difference between a man and a boy is that a man freely chooses to use their power for the good. it is from that they get their honour and dignity. some never make that choice. some don't even know the choice exists. Why would they? BBC pumps out the gangsta model lifestyle? they won't learn anything different in school because the controlling pig philosophy denies there is a good.

    'i don't have the freedom to do what i want to do'

    ahhh. its called growing up. welcome to the adult world.

    willets believes in well informed choice by students? hahaha. if they were well informed why such high levels of drug abuse?

  • Comment number 43.

    richard bunning (18) "As 50%+ of the population goes into higher education, you are saying that they are all stupid - somewhat of an arrogant view to take on the majority of the population, I'd suggest."
    He didn't write that, you just asserted he did. What he's saying is essentially true. Most students today are just average, that is clearly so as 50% is not 5%.. Ability hasn't improved over the years, if anything it's declined, and that shows up in the PISA results. Most graduates today are nothing like those of 30 years ago.
    So, with respect, I suggest it's your indignation which is misplaced. We've had massive cognitive inflation over recent decades.

  • Comment number 44.

    keveseywevsey (32) "Unlike you, I can imagine how that wouldn't work. But for sake of argument, how would you imagine Chinese democracy? Would it be centralised Govt? How many political parties do you envision in this new democracy? would China be broken down into ethnic and tribal lines; historical and recent?...and factor in the high population numbers. Go on, pull me up a good model of Chinese democracy."
    Well said. The Chinese know this, most people here don't They never seem to factor in size or other factors like ethnic mix. If one looks at China, it is largely Han. If one looks at Sweden, it is small and it is still largely White (most immigrants are other Whites from Europe). The democratic system which China has adopted is bottom up and more structured than liberal-democracy, but people here think they don't have a democracy at all because it isn't a democracy like theirs!. Many here have the gall to demand that countries like China behave like them! Now, what's that evidence of other than imperialism? These people will be demanding the Chinese all speak English next, because it's err... better.

  • Comment number 45.
    In the news elsewhere, more stories suggesting that the press here can be counted on to spin events?
    First - Iran:
    Are we to infer that the Western press emphasises the adultery charge but plays down the murder charge?
    Next - China:
    In China, whether we like it or not, Liu Xiaobo is in prison for subversion, as his behaviour was in breach of the Chinese Constitution and penal code. For his behaviour to go unpunished, there would have to be substantial constitutional change, and ironically, that would have been brought about undemocratically if he was not to be punished. To see how wrong it is to support Liu Xiaobo with a peace prize, one has to understand the Chinese democratic system. If you are reading this and you have not tried to work through it, I suggest you do.
    If it isn't China being vilified, it's Iran, and especially, it would seem, when all is not well with our own system of government!
    Finally - Russia:
    One clear message which runs through these articles is that the Western press seems to serve the interests of those here who favour regime change abroad, whilst at home, the press fails to look very far into what has been destroying our own way of life (see Paul Mason recently asking for 50 favourite books instead of looking into how the debt is substantively apportioned by different sectors of the economy!) , so not much ever gets done, as matters deteriorate further and further by the month.

  • Comment number 46.

    indignantindegene (35) "Using Rose Charts and Pie Charts, rather than ‘edgy’ music and lighting, we should all be able to see whether the government’s gamble is likely to result in recovery of taxpayers’ up-front funding, and also how many graduates may never repay their fees, due to drop-outs and emigration."
    Careful. That sort of provocative talk is likely to get you branded persona non grata!
    Best to stick to arguing and points of view, as that seems to be the limited diet of the Newsnight Production Team and its Presenters.
    Which was does the earth spin? Let's have a debate and ensure that viewers have 'balanced views'

  • Comment number 47.

    kevseywevsey (41) "The Crick did a Nick (Robinson) and went all dramatic. He mentioned something about comparisons can be made with the student uprising and the poll tax riots of 20yrs ago. Thats like saying the music of Steely Dan and the cheeky girls have something in common. How does Crick get away with this nonsense? "
    They don't have many good staff on Newsnight anymore. Mason is an exception. Crick is a real pain in the neck. In fact, most of the media is a pain these days. Like rebellious students, it's all noise and no substance. Ms Wark reminds me of that awful women at the Guillotine. Maybe they are trying to kill off their discerning audience so they can better compete with SKY etc?


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