Yes, he does.
Lecturers’ union UCU will call on the government to abolish all university tuition fees – and force big business to pick up the tab. The demand is made in a new report highlighting Britain’s status as one of the cheapest countries for firms to do business.
Currently British businesses only pay 28 per cent combined corporate income tax rate, the lowest rate in the G7 with the exception of Italy. UCU is demanding that tax be raised to the G7 average of 32.87 per cent, with the billions this would raise each year ploughed into education.
It says its proposals for a business education tax are the \”first coherent attempt at making business pay its way for the numerous benefits it gets from UK higher education,\” after years of neglect and underinvestment. Research by the union and left Labour pressure group Compass has revealed that higher education contributes £59 billion to the economy every year. Graduates are also more likely to cost less to the economy through more secure employment and be healthier, more active individuals, the union states.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt pointed out that the proposed increase in corporation tax would still be lower than when the Tories were last in power.
\”Our proposals are based on fairness,\” she said. \”The future for the UK is as a high-skilled knowledge economy and that requires business to pay its fair share towards something which benefits us all,\” she said.
One of the problems with this is of course that old one about pipers and tunes.If we\’re going to insist that business pays then business clearly should be able to decide what the education is. The logic seems difficult to escape. UCU says business benefits from having graduates, therefore business should pay for creating graduates. If this is so then business should obviously only be paying for those graduates which benefit business.
Which might not be quite what the UCU would like to hear:
In a report, billed as a pre-election manifesto, the AGR said: “The introduction of a target to get 50 per cent of all under-30s into higher education by 2010 has driven down standards, devalued the currency of a degree and damaged the quality of the student university experience.
“Growing numbers of students are studying degree courses which lack rigour in below-average institutions.
“This does not help young people’s life chances or represent a good financial investment. It also creates problems for graduate employers who can no longer be sure what the value of certain degree courses and institutions is.
“The focus must shift back to quality rather than quantity, while the offering must adapt to meet the needs of a wider range of backgrounds and abilities.”
Business wants fewer, better graduates. And if they\’re going to be paying for it why shouldn\’t their desires be taken account of? Equally, if they\’re not going to be the people paying for it then the UCU is entirely at liberty to tell \’em to go piss up a rope.
But not both: you pay and by the way, here\’s what we want to provide, not what you want to pay for.