Letter: Taxing graduates

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is precisely for the reasons advanced by Brian Stone (Letters, 26 June) in respect of graduates who study part time or by distance learning (so costing the taxpayer a good deal less than others), that whatever company I am in when discussing the funding crisis in higher education, I go out of my way to stamp on the term 'graduate tax'. My hosts at 20 visits to universities and colleges since January can bear witness.

It is a shorthand term which sends all the wrong signals to vast numbers of students who do not study on the conventional three- year, full-time course, whether they have a grant or not. Indeed, your own helpful leading article on 24 June referred to 'some form of graduate tax', not at all the simplistic, unfair, top-up fees proposed by the director of the London School of Economics.

As such, your leader did not deserve the rebuke from Gareth Williams of the London University Institute of Education (26 June). Contrary to Mr Willlams' bad tempered remark about the Labour Party, he can be assured that the opposition green paper to be published by Ann Taylor will indeed have 'the guts' to address the funding crisis in mass higher education.

Yours faithfully,


MP for Birmingham Perry Barr


House of Commons

London, SW1

The writer is Labour spokesman for Higher Education.