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Friday, 10 December 2010

Revolting Students? I blame the parents

The only certain consequence of a very big increase in university student fees is that more young men will try their luck at drug dealing and more young women will turn to lap dancing clubs - unless the Fawcett Society closes them down, in which case young women will turn to prostitution.

There is a background issue about parental responsibility. At what age do you lose responsibility for your children? (Leave aside, for the moment, when you acquire it). When they could leave school? When they do leave school? When they leave home? When they finish an undergraduate degree? When they are in proper full time employment? When (if female?) they get married? Never?

Let's stick with the middle classes and how they create families. Unless very affluent, they rely on free pre- and ante-natal care; free vaccinations; free schooling from 5 ( earlier if they are lucky) to 18; lower bus fares and cinema ticket prices. They assume that everyone is happy to subsidise their children and so they often have more than they would if they had to pay the full cost. There are lots of middle class breeders.

They assume that the subsidised life will continue indefinitely. They do not expect a radical change to occur when their children go to university. They certainly do not plan to pay for this stage of their children's education. When the children go off to university, surely that is when we upgrade the car, extend our holidays abroad, and replace the sofas they have trashed?

So some - some, not all - of our revolting students now find themselves caught between parents who Can't Pay, Won't Pay and a state which has decided it also Can't Pay, Won't Pay. In short, they are stuffed.

More precisely, they are faced with the prospect of building up quite substantial debts just to support themselves and pay fees. And this debt is secured against the prospect of rather uncertain future employment. Adulthood hits them all at once, at eighteen.

Adulthood ought to hit their parents too. Parents need to be weaned off their dependence on subsidies to bring up children. Perhaps they should be enrolled compulsorily in savings schemes which yield lump sums for their children when they reach adulthood. Maybe they should be told they have been feckless to have the children and not plan for their future.

Worst of all, there are lots of middle class parents out there who can afford to support their children but are too mean to do so. They talk about Growing Up and Responsibility. I am sure the demonstrators on the streets of London have heard a lot of such talk,.

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