Education Minister Leighton Andrews has admitted to WalesOnline what we have known all along, that
“The Welsh Government’s radical tuition fee policy requires an element of guesswork and nobody really knows how much it will cost.”
Wow! Really should have held the front page for that one.
‘The Rhondda AM said calculations were “really difficult” to make and he is certain Welsh Labour’s tuition fee forecasts will be wrong.’
Perhaps it’s about time that the Labour party stopped using the back of a brown envelope and a well chewed pencil to make their budget calculations. Because, Leighton, dealing with the budget for a whole country is ‘really difficult’ - you may have to take your shoes and socks off to aid your counting.
On a more serious note, this has always been the problem with the policy in Wales. Despite what the press would like people to believe, the Welsh Liberal Democrats are still in favour of abolishing tuition fees, but it has to be a policy based on practicalities. It needs to be properly costed and the funding stream identified. How can you do that if you have no idea what the costs will be?
Last month Leighton claimed it would cost the Welsh Government £173m a year to subsidise Welsh students studying at UK Universities. The affordability of the current policy is heavily reliant on English students coming to study in Wales and bringing in money. In the interview the Minister is, as usual, dismissive of anything that doesn’t fit in with what he is determined to implement, such as data from UCAS which shows a sharp drop in the number of students from England applying to study here.
Apparently tomorrow WalesOnline will carry a further excerpt from the interview on the subject of school standards. I can hardly contain my excitement.