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← Oxford Gift for Poor Students

Cartomancer's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by Cartomancer

I am ambivalent about projects like this.

On the surface, yes, it's a very generous gift. And very helpful too. I'm not sure what the qualifications for getting the reduced fees will be, but it does mean that rather than £9,000 a year these students (or, more likely, their families) will only have to find £3,500. That's about what I was paying in the early 2000s when I was still an undergraduate. It's still a considerable outlay, and I'd rather there was enough support to make all higher education free to everyone (like it is in Scandinavia), but it's definitely a step in the right direction.

On the other hand, such donations should not be necessary. Higher education is one of the most important public goods we have, and should be funded accordingly. We shouldn't need mega-rich benefactors because the government should be paying for it all from taxation, for the sake of our future. I worry that with people stepping forward to plug these gaps out of their own generosity, it will encourage the already uber-right-wing and desperately out of touch millionaires in government to assume that they can rely on this kind of thing. It will reduce the momentum for change, and make a profound reversal in policy all the less likely to happen.

Yes, get those who can afford to pay for it to pay for it, but do it as a matter of policy, through taxing the wealthy more, rather than leaving it up to individual will. Not all of the mega-rich are as generous as Michael Moritz or Harriet Heyman or Bill Gates or Richard Dawkins. Individual generosity is fluctuating, inconsistent, and patchy. Higher Education needs consistent, constant and secure funding.

Fri, 13 Jul 2012 09:19:44 UTC | #949042