Earlier this month, The Times newspaper published an article by Emma Duncan about the global education arms race being out of control. It focused on the spiralling costs of, and time spent on, private education and tutoring.
The UK is a country which has some of the finest universities in the world and has an incredible independent education system revered by parents around the globe. One of our greatest exports is our education system and it is one we should be proud of.
But the article talks about the arms race as if it is just happening, but she is 15 to 20 years too late. The educational arms race really happened in the 2000s. This was when schools realised they were losing UK boarders as fees started to outstrip wages. They had to look abroad for paying customers and compete with other schools to get these customers who wanted shiny new buildings and first rate facilities for their child to enjoy. They needed more bang for their buck, in other words.
“If we were all the same and spending our money on the same thing, life would be very dull.”
I am glad that the benefits of private schooling have been showcased even if it was to demonstrate that parents are less shallow in spending their money on education rather than cars and holidays. I do firmly believe though in the “horse for courses” element here and that if we were all the same and spending our money on the same thing, life would be very dull.
Back to the main point though, topping up a degree with additional qualifications should be seen as a positive. Many do this following a university education to have a more specific career-related diploma or award as they progress in their roles.
If a person wishes to have more letters after their name and certificates to upload and promote on various social media platforms in order to compete in today’s ruthless job world, why not? If you’re in an educational arms race situation, it’s normal to want to respond to that.
Education and a strong healthcare system are the two key pillars of a thriving society. We should not be decrying the benefits of education and knowledge in advancing our society and we should want more people to gain knowledge and learn. This is the case whether it be at their parents’ or anyone else’s expense as it ensures a thriving economy now and in the future.
“If VAT were applied on schooling, this would push up fees further and send the education arms race through the roof.”
The key point I want to raise is that spectre of VAT on schools … again. This will never go away, it seems, and will continue to haunt schools. With nearly 6 per cent of our children in independent schools, if VAT were applied on schooling, this would push up fees further and send the education arms race through the roof. Displaced pupils, unable to afford the higher fees, would have to find places in our already crammed state sector (where classes of 30 are the norm)
As well as reducing the support given to some of the poorest in society through bursaries, many schools would end up having to close. The sector gave £455 million in bursaries with nearly 180,000 pupils getting help with fees (ISC Census, 2021). Not only that, but independent schools contribute £13.7 billion annually as well as saving the state £3.5 billion a year by pupils not taking up state school places. They do their bit.
Finally, we do have to recognise that whether in a communist state or not, people will always find ways to grow business and advance. It is just normal human nature to want to compete and try and be the best.
We should just accept this as part of Darwinism and move on. Some people can afford these aspects and some not, and others choose not. Why are we legislating for people to spend their money in a certain way?