English students are to find the grants to which they are entitled cut by over £500 next year after the government – to quote George Bush – misunderestimated the number of students who would be eligible for the full grant. Instead of the anticipated 33%, 40% are eligible. Although the government is not cutting the full grant to those from families with an income below £25,000 per annum, the grant cut off point will be cut by £10,000 to £50,000. 10% of students will be affected. The shortfall in income is £200 million. Once again we see the gap between New Labour’s rhetoric and its reality. Talk of one in two going to university allied with the introduction of fees. £200 million seems a lot of money. But it probably wouldn’t buy you the Chelsea football team, and certainly wouldn’t pay the bonuses of financial speculators who have already been rescued by the taxpayer.
As can be seen in both the Republic and Italy as well as Britain, the education sector is an easy target for cuts, revealing the short-termism inherent in the current centre-right thinking (if that’s not too strong a word) prediminant across Europe.
UPDATE: The National Union of Students’ not very inspiring response is available here, as is a report it has produced on the funding of higher education generally.