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Posts Tagged ‘positive externalities’

Loan delays for students

Most students have a student loan: you need it to live; to buy text books; to survive. So, what do you do if your student loan hasn’t appeared in your bank account? This is a problem that many students have been facing. The Student Loans Company said that even after most courses had started, 175,358 students had still not had their loan application processed. This represented 16% of applications. There are various reasons given for this delay, but one that appears more often is the current economic downturn. This has been a crucial factor in so many students being without the necessary finance to begin university. Another reason is that many documents have been misplaced. On the other hand, a spokesman for the Student Loans Company (SLC) said that actually delays this year were no worse than in previous years, even though this is the first year when students applied directly to the SLC. Does this suggest that actually the whole system of student loans is still inefficient and needs to be overhauled again? Is there a better method?

In order to help students, many universities have made emergency payments to those without their loans. What’s the opportunity cost of this money? Surely it could be used for other purposes. Universities have seen their highest ever number of applications, although there has been a drop in Scottish student numbers and there are suggestions that tuition fees will increase again. What are the implications of the problems with student loans and the massive increase in university applications?

Minister ‘sorry’ for student loan delays ePolitiX (15/10/09)
140,000 miss university places The Press Association (17/10/09)
Student loan firm explains delays BBC News (12/10/09)
Student loan delay hits 175,000 students Telegraph, Graeme Paton (9/10/09)
Enquiry to be held over late payments of student loans Guardian, Jessica Shepherd (13/10/09)
Watchdog fears over poor students BBC News (29/9/09)
Student tuition fees could increase Telegraph, Graeme Patton (14/10/09)
Student debt to soar Daily Express, Alison Little (14/10/09)

Questions

  1. Why has the recession had an impact on university applications?
  2. Should universities be able to set their own fees? What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a system? How could fees be determined?
  3. Primary and Secondary education is a merit good and free in the UK. What do we mean by a merit good and how can we illustrate the positive externalities associated with education? Why is higher education not free to the student? Aren’t there positive externalities associated with it?
  4. If tuition fees increase, student debt levels after graduation will be higher. What is the likely impact of this on the students themselves and on the economy?
  5. What the likely consequences for (a) students (b) universities of the delays in student loans?
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Cycling – good for you and good for the economy

A report from Cycling England has suggested that a £70m investment in cycling each year could save the government £520m per year. The savings result from the positive benefits of increased cycling – lower carbon dioxide emissions and lower NHS costs as we become healthier. But, do the numbers add up?

Investment in cycling could save £520m, government told Guardian (17/9/07)

Questions
1. Define the terms (i) external benefits (ii) external costs and (iii) marginal social benefit.
2. Identify three external benefits that result from increased cycling.
3. Using diagrams as appropriate, show how the market equilibrium and the socially optimum level of cycling will differ.
4. Discuss policies that the government could adopt to move the market closer to the social optimum.
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