Tuesday, 1 September 2015

People value things more if they have to pay for them - part the manieth

From the BBC:

University drop-out rates fell sharply after tuition fees were increased, according to researchers.

A report from Lancaster University Management School examined the impact of the 2006 round of fee increases, when they rose to about £3,000.

It indicated drop-out rates had fallen by 16% - with the biggest reduction in prestigious Russell Group universities.

The study suggests higher fees focused students' thoughts on the need to get a good degree and pay off their debts.

As I always said, this was one the advantages of having tuition fees. People who weren't 100% serious about finishing a course wouldn't start it in the first place; and under the 'sunk costs' fallacy, fewer people would change their minds half way through.

Which sort of justifies nominal tuition fees of up to £3,000 a year, but does not justify £9,000 fees (even if many people will never actually repay much of them - because it's not really tuition fees at all, it is a graduate tax). The article seems to be saying that there was no noticeable further decline in drop out rates when they went to £9,000.


Mark In Mayenne said...

How do these drop - out rates compare with those under the old system of government grants for students at the then fewer universities in the 70s?

Mark Wadsworth said...

MIM, I have no idea. Is it relevant?

Lola said...

MIM. There wasn't a 'target' for people to go to universities in the 70's. It's only a recent thing to 'target' that 50% of students 'should' go to uni. And arguably that was used to masque the 'real' youth unemployment figures precipitated by the minimum wage. So I think it may be impossible to compare unless you apply all sorts of controls and add caveats.

DBC Reed said...

There was some vague target to increase numbers doing degrees via the Crowther and Robbins reports in 60's that discovered that there were significant numbers of people with good enough A levels who weren't going to university.The whole laissez faire system then prevalent was so disorganised that you had to apply individually to places so you could complete six or seven different forms though sticking to the same bollocks on your letter of application. Improvements to system meant a surge in university student numbers, a more-is-worse campaign by right-wing fuckwits , then revolution and student occupations as the full corruption of existing system came to light: my first professor got his post-graduate students to give his lectures (while he chaired important university committees) and I had no tutorials for the first year and nowhere to live .I dropped out of these courses and took other ones until I found something very congenial (Shakespeare et al),& interesting in which I excelled.
As I discovered through subsequent teaching you cannot pressurise students into learning: they have to have a glimmer of interest.If they don't, economic and societal pressure makes things worse.(I couldn't stand or understand Maths until we got to Trigonometry which earning big marks got me through the O level, the only end of year Maths exam I ever passed.)
I would have thought a wide variety of taster courses would be in order where students could find their metier. At the end of my time in teaching, students took five subjects post GCSE then narrowed to three in the second year.
(O levels were set up on same basis: you were supposed to do completely different subjects at A level not plough on with the same ones).Right wing fuckwits have been trampling on this more liberal post GcSE system and pissing all over it: Goving all over it.
Let the kids do what they want, as far as possible.
I am not sure you should stick with things you have sunk a lot of money into. I had a car like that.

The Stigler said...


I'm not at all sure about the "masking unemployment figures" thing. Most people at university could get a reasonable job.

The real problem is that governments see university as an unalloyed Good Thing and parents have seen that people who go to university correlate with high earnings and assume it's a Good Thing. And the universities weren't going to complain about expansion. The Major government pressed ahead with expanding university education without considering what the results would be and no-one has ever tried to reverse it since.

And the result was that we massively expanded degrees that don't have much of a payoff. Psychology is now the biggest degree subject. Does any employer need psychology graduates? No, they don't. You get an edge over people with A levels but that's about it.

Lola said...

TS. I am not sure of it myself. It was just a thought based on a deep suspicion of all New labour politicking. I also heard it somewhere else said by someone or other.

However it all does seem to have degraded all vocational courses. I did the ONC/HNC route to Engineering and they were tough courses. HNC at least equal to second year degree. Mind you my 'O' level maths course in about 1967 included calculus....don't think that that is the case now.

Lola said...

DBCR. I don't think you quite grasp what is actually meant by 'laissez-faire'.

Pablo said...

a wide variety of taster courses would be in order where students could find their metier

As I recall, Keele used that system - a 4 year B.A. with the 1st year General Studies.

Lola said...

"...a wide variety of taster courses would be in order where students could find their metier..."

Laissez-faire then?

DBC Reed said...

Re Keele.yes my mate went there. He ended up doing an Arts subject in the subsequent years but did some scientific research of a fairly basic nature in the first year which proved unexpectedly useful later on.
@L No laissez faire relates to people with economic power: people capable of investing can do no wrong. Students are the objects of transactions not the initiating subjects.

Bayard said...

AFAICS, no evidence has been put forward that any bright students were missing out under the old system. If only 5% of students went to university, that meant that only 5% wanted to go (not that I believe that 5% figure). If you were from a poor family, you could get a degree without ending up in too much debt, or any at all if you were frugal. OK some people spent three years dossing on the state, but that could have been fixed by some sort of link between results in end-of-year exams and the following year's grant.

TS, I'm pretty convinced of the "masking unemployment figures" thing. There doesn't seem any other real reason for the expansion. It seems unlikely that it was done simply for the international prestige of having 50% of students in higher education or to ape the USA and I don't think anyone really kidded themselves that we weren't going to end up where we have now, with lots of unemployed graduates or graduates in employment they would have got without a degree. It may have been done by a Labour government, but I agree with DBCR on this one: it was a bit of right-wing fuckwittery.

"parents have seen that people who go to university correlate with high earnings and assume it's a Good Thing."

That was only true at the start when the graduates people were looking at were the 5%, not the 50%. Now it's only true the other way round, (i.e. high earners tend to have a degree, not vice versa) so there is no longer a causal link.

Lola said...

@DBCR. Yup. That proves it. You are confused about 'laissez-faire' and I claim my £5.

Lola said...

@B I don't think 'it was a bit of right wing fuckwittery'. I think it was a bit of political gerrymandering fuckwittery. Either side would have done the same had they thought about it. Personally, I think it was a classic piece of Blairite smoke and mirrors that the Tories would have done had they thought about it.

Bayard said...

My reasons for the "right-wing" tag was that students from a poor family are now less able to get a degree than they were before and said students are more likely to be left-wing, so from the right-wing POV, that is a Good Thing. Mind you, as the recent leadership election has shown, even Blairite Labour hates the left wing.

Lola said...

B Hmm. I see your point. It's the same as mine really - keep the plebs down.

I am an employer. I really do not give a Damn' about where someone comes from. All I care about is that they can do the job. Pretty well all of my peer group think the same way. So it's the 'politics', not the 'market' that buggers this up. And FWIW my Grammar school took lots of working class children. But then that was pre-Crosland.

Bayard said...

"All I care about is that they can do the job."

I keep going on about this to the young people in my family and their friends, but I dare say they think they know better.

Lola said...

B I do also like them to have a fine sense of the ridiculous...Is that too much to ask?

Bayard said...

No, that comes under the only other thing that employers are really interested in: "Will I enjoy working with this person?". (Not applicable to any organisation large enough to have an HR department.)