The current debate about taxing graduates to alleviate the cost of their further education is fascinating, not least because of the way Vince Cable has been spun into a lonely position on the policy – even though it was a widely supported idea within the Coalition before it saw the light of day.
But that’s politics, and this is education – something infinitely more important. There is of course a very simple solution to the dilemma now facing a cash-strapped Government: raise the bar dramatically to where it used to be. It’s too late to do this for the coming year, but the 2012 intake would be reduced by at least 90% if one followed that policy.
There are three reasons why the Coalition won’t do this.
First, there isn’t the teaching talent to ready kids for College at the required level.
Second, as Clegg and Cable cling to the lowest common denominator interpretation of equality, they would be offended by even the idea that people should be judged on their worth – and thus resign, bringing down the Coalition.
Third, the policy would be deeply unpopular, and greeted by howls of Butimtitledinneye? This plus the public-school guilt of most of those involved ensures that, more than any other factor, the dilemma will have to wait until a braver British leader comes along.
If we can no longer accept that the brightest and best should go to University, then ultimately our culture is doomed to believe that a sufficiency will do. They’re wrong: excellence and the pursuit of excellence will be a table stake in the New World.