In 2010/11, government funding for UK universities will be 7 per cent less (£518m) than in 2009/10. This has led to calls for substantial increases in student fees in order to stave off a serious funding crisis for many universities. One such call has come from David Blanchflower. As the first article below states:
“A leading economist has called for students from well-off families to be charged the ‘market rate’ of up to £30,000 a year to go to university. David ‘Danny’ Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, said the “poor have been subsidising the rich” for too many years.”
But just what are the arguments for and against a substantial rise in fees and who should pay any rise in fees? Should it be only students of very well-off parents or should it include middle-income parents too? Or if student loans are available to cover higher fees, why should not the same fees apply to all students? Then there is the question of who benefits from a university education? How much should external benefits be taken into account?
Call for universities to charge well-off students £30,000 a year Observer, Anushka Asthana and Ian Tucker (27/12/09)
A rise in fees would make university education fairer Observer (27/12/09)
Who wants a two-year degree? Independent on Sunday, Richard Garner (27/12/09)
Briefing: University funding Sunday Times, Georgia Warren (27/12/09)
Universities face £500m cut in funding Financial Times, Nicholas Timmins (22/12/09)
The nightmare before Christmas: grant letter announces £135m cut Times Higher Education, John Morgan (27/12/09)
Fast-track degrees proposed to cut higher education costs Guardian, Polly Curtis (22/12/09)
- Why is the government planning to make substantial cuts to university funding?
- What are the arguments for and against the university sector bearing a larger percentage cut than most other areas of government expenditure?
- Should any rise in fees be born by parents or by students from future income?
- Identify the external benefits from higher education? How does the existence of such externalities affect the arguments about the appropriate charges for higher education?
- What are the economic arguments for and against moving towards more two-year degrees.
- Discuss the case for and against increasing the participation rate in higher education to 50 per cent of young people.
- Is higher education a ‘merit good’ and, if so, what are the implications for charging for higher education?
There has been much discussion recently on the use of fiscal policy to combat recession. What measures should be used? How effective will they be? How will the resulting large budget deficit be brought back into balance in the future?
But what are the microeconomic implications of all the tax changes? Are the changes fair? What implications do they have for incentives? Perhaps it’s time for a completely fresh look at the structure of our tax system – a system that has been changed piecemeal over the past years to meet short-term macroeconomic and political goals. Can it be redesigned to meet the two microeconomic goals of efficiency and equity? The following article looks at what form a redesigned tax structure might take.
Our tax system is a mess. But Darling has a chance to fix it. (Peter Wilby) Guardian (11/4/09)
- In what ways does the present tax system fail to meet the goals of (a) fairness through redistribution and (b) creating appropriate incentives?
- Explain what is meant by “The whole system has been framed by Tory thinking to assist social engineering, Tory style”.
- Provide a justification and critique of the reforms proposed in the article.
An ongoing debate in economics for many years has been the extent to which governments should intervene in the economy. The debate has re-emerged in recent months with the global financial crisis as many commentators have arged that had a tighter regulatory system been in place, it could have helped to prevent some of the poorer lending practices of banks internationally. Even the recent G20 meeting (dubbed Bretton Woods II by some analysts) discussed regulatory reform of the international financial system. The two articles below look at this debate about the extent of government intervention from two very different angles. The first is from the perspective of Victorian England and Little Dorritt, while the second (by Peter Mandelson) looks at how globalisation and the financial crisis have informed the debate about state intervention.
So much for ‘late’ capitalism Guardian (24/11/08)
The future active state Guardian (4/12/08)
- Examine the advantages and disadvantages of greater state intervention in an economy.
- Discuss the extent to which globalisation has changed the need for the amount of state intervention in an economy.
- “Strong social welfare systems and redistribution can be contributors to economic growth.” Discuss the extent to which this statement will always hold true.
In Gordon Brown’s last budget as Chancellor he scrapped the 10p starting rate of taxation and this change came into effect for the 2008/9 tax year starting April 6th 2008. The move has been criticised by many Labour MPs and by poverty campaign groups as they argue that the scrapping of the rate will make some poor people worse off. They also argue that it will make it more difficult to meet the targets the government has set for reducing child poverty
Chancellor accused of widening poverty trap for poorer workers Times Online (14/03/08)
Benefit move to cut child poverty BBC News Online (12/03/08)
||Explain what is meant by the poverty trap.
||Explain how the abolition of the 10p starting rate of tax is likely to increase inequality.
||Analyse two policies that are likely to reduce poverty. Then assess the extent to which these policies will also help reduce child poverty.
Widening levels of income distribution have led to increased anger, according to a poll carried out for the Guardian by ICM. The articles linked to below look at this issue from a range of perspectives and using a series of regional case studies.
Anger at gap between rich and poor – ICM poll Guardian (20/2/08)
Diamonds for rich inside M25; hard times for the rest Guardian (21/1/08)
What the Romans did for us: introduce a North-South divide Guardian (21/1/08)
Where Burberry, Bentleys and bling prevail Guardian (21/1/08)
Dark reality hidden behind the picturesque scenery Guardian (21/1/08)
Mills and mail order: end of Empire marks another stage of decline Guardian (21/1/08)
Mind the gap Guardian (21/1/08)
||Define the terms ‘Lorenz curve’ and Gini coefficient’.
||Using diagrams as appropriate show the changes that have taken place in income distribution in the UK in the past decade.
||Assess the principal causes of the growing North-South divide.
||Evaluate two policy options available to the government to reduce the widening gap in income distribution.