Should students pay our bills?
Perhaps it's an Oxford and FT thing.
First we had Ed Balls (schools minister, ex-FT commentator, educated Keble, Oxford) suggesting cuts in the schools budget and today Richard Lambert (director general of the CBI, ex-FT editor, Balliol, Oxford) proposes that university students pay increased tuition fees.
When I heard what the CBI was recommending, I assumed this would be predicated on a hard-nosed capitalist analysis.
The argument, surely, would be along the lines of saying that a student should pay a price that captures the uplift to his or her earning power from the relevant course and qualification, the private gain, as opposed to the benefit for society.
That would have a certain ideological coherence, and might well resonate with many of the business group's members. Although it might not appeal to all of you.
However that's not really where the CBI's task force (led by Sam Laidlaw, chief executive of Centrica, old Etonian, Caius, Cambridge) is coming from.
And probably a good thing too.
Because there's rather more art than science in establishing a "fair" price for higher education, one which allows the purchasers (the fickle 18-year-olds) to believe that they really will have a lot more delicious jam tomorrow if they burden themselves with substantial debt today.
In fact, strikingly, the CBI is almost voting for Christmas - in that it actually wants companies to pay a bigger price for the benefits they receive from university.
The CBI is unambiguous that the UK's putatively world-class higher education system is not a free lunch for companies - which need to be a bit keener to pick up the bill for keeping themselves and the UK competitive in the global marketplace.
That said, there's no suggestion that this bill for companies should be in any sense obligatory - just a voluntary contribution to the greater prosperity.
So the CBI recommends that companies sponsor more students to do the courses - especially in science, technology, engineering and maths - that are particularly valuable to them.
And it says that they should pay signing-on bonuses to students who take the degrees they want.
Which for those in the private sector who fear that the bonus culture is on the run is probably an example of inculcating the faith while the tomorrow's leaders are still young and pliable.
In the round, the CBI wants much greater collaboration between universities and business.
That's a refrain we've heard many times over the years. But this is probably not the time to ignore it, since indebted, no-growth Britain needs to start paying its way in the world pretty sharpish.
So what is the argument then for whacking up what students pay - and not as a voluntary tariff?
Well it's simply that the CBI assumes - uncontroversially - that with the national debt inflating rather faster than A-level results, there will be tough public-spending choices for a government of any colour in the coming year or so.
And it believes the realistic alternatives are cutting research funding, slashing teaching budgets, reducing student numbers or whacking up the financial contribution made by undergraduates.
Presented with that unappetising menu, the CBI thinks the UK will be least damaged by demanding that the young pay more for their own improvement in two different ways: by pushing up tuition fees; and by increasing the interest rate on student loans to the rate actually paid by government for servicing its own debt.
Which may be rational, so long as the deterrent effect of higher fees is not too great. And so long as those from poorer backgrounds are protected through maintenance grants and special bursaries.
However, there is also an issue here of inter-generational social justice which the CBI ignores.
More by luck than desert, the generation of Lambert, Balls, Laidlaw and even Peston have had it pretty good.
We had free university education.
We have saved for a pension over the many years of a bull market and when companies and the public sector felt obliged to offer gold-standard final salary pension schemes.
We managed to get on the property ladder before house prices became ludicrously inflated.
And guess what? It was our generation which royally messed up the economy with the inadequate governance that led to the credit crunch and the worst global recession since the 1930s.
We're - on the whole - alright Jack, thanks to the accident of when we happen to have been born.
But those leaving school and university today face an altogether bleaker future: a drought of jobs; a bewildering and unappealing set of options for saving and investing; over-priced residential property (even after the "correction"); relentless fearsome competition from India, China, and so on.
And there's the costs of providing a health service and welfare state to sustain an older generation - of Lambert, Balls, Laidlaw and Peston - whom the actuaries say will go on and on and on (heaven help us).
By contrast, it is also striking that the CBI concedes that the cost to taxpayers of our higher education system is not great compared to other wealthy economies.
So some may well argue that as and when a new government decides to make cuts or increase taxes - to fill the hole in the public finances created by the current generation - its first instinct should probably not be to penalise students. Shouldn't the older generation bequeath them something other than debt?