Letter: 'Con trick' gives all a chance

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The Independent Online
ROBERT CHOTE'S article on student grants ('Time the campus went to market', Business, 14 August) although interesting was somewhat naive and misinformed. This 'great middle- class con trick', as he calls it, in fact ensures the availability of tertiary education for all, regardless of social position.

Mr Chote suggests that students should be forced to pay for 'all of their tuition fees and living costs'. Using his figures, this would result in students graduating with debts of more than pounds 24,000.

What Mr Chote fails to take into account is that students from poor families will have to bear this debt alone, while those from more affluent backgrounds will have it paid by relatives. Mr Chote is proposing a scheme that will dissuade all but the most determined disadvantaged students from taking up university places. The result will be that universities will become learning centres for the rich - a far cry from Mr Chote's egalitarian dream.

He should consider the following: first, the basic grant of pounds 2,040 is means tested, and thus unavailable to students with affluent parents. Second, those students fortunate enough to get the highly paid jobs do pay the nation back for their education in the form of higher income tax payments.

Andrew S Leggett

Little Clacton, Essex

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