LETTER:Taxing our children

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The Independent Online
From The Rev Dr A. E. Harvey

Sir: In your leading article "Why graduates should pay more" (2 February), you agree with what appears to be the view of both Government and Opposition that higher education must henceforth be financed with the help of some form of student loans or graduate tax. This is allegedly made necessary by the greatly increased number of those wishing to continue their education after they leave school and is justified on the grounds that since a degree or diploma is likely to lead to a better-paid job, it is only fair that the beneficiary should pay back some of the cost of acquiring this advantage.

The next generation will have to carry burdens greater than any before them: unsolved environmental and geopolitical problems created by our profligate use of the earth's resources and provision for an unprecedentedly large population of the elderly. In addition to all this, we are now asking them to pay back the cost of higher education.

In the past, it has been taken for granted that parents should do their best to provide for their children a life at least as good as they have had themselves. Now, for perhaps the first time in recorded history, this covenant has been broken. We have consented to place our own comfort (represented by a low level of taxation) above the needs of our children.

If parents were to offer their children the best available education only on condition of being repaid later on, we would hardly approve. Is not the whole concept of student loans to save the taxpayer money equally immoral?

Yours faithfully,

Anthony Harvey

Sub-Dean

Westminster Abbey

London, SW1

3 February

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