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Research Material

Are online tuition fees fair?

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, UK/home students paid £9000+ per year for their university undergraduate education (even more for international students). While there are debates about the fairness of this price, students were given access to a plethora of resources from the university, from face to face tuition to library access. 

However, following the pandemic, the price of tuition has remained the same, yet students have been given restricted access to resources provided by the university, and most, if not all, teaching is now online (burdened by technical difficulties and connection issues). While some students prefer online tuition, as it provides them with more freedom to tailor their schedules and time tables, many students are not satisfied. Not only is the teaching more distant and thus of less quality, but students have also been given restrictions such as limited access to the library and its resources (for example, library open hours were reduced from 24 hours to simply 8 am to 10 pm, inadequate for the students who possess higher productivity in the later hours of the night), as well as fewer consultation hours and reduced seminars. 

You can argue that the fees that students pay aren’t just for the teaching that they receive, but the university life in general. However, again, this is not the case under the current restrictions. A lot of university life is socialising with fellow students, mainly through societies and sports clubs. However, sports clubs are no longer allowed to play, and societies are no longer allowed to operate their usual events, instead, they have to settle for online events, limiting the opportunities.

On the other hand, is the price of fees truly fair, do we even know what we are paying for exactly? According to Nottingham Trent University and savethestudent.org, this is where our fees go:

(Source: https://www.savethestudent.org/news/what-tuition-fees-get-spent-on.html#:~:text=Other%20services%20and%20infrastructure%2C%20like,%2C%20and%20the%20student%20experience%E2%80%9D.)

  • 39% on teaching costs
  • 36% on administration and infrastructure
  • 17% on teaching, research and student experience enhancement
  • 8% on services such as marketing, finance, and the vice-chancellor’s salary
Categories
Research Material

School Meals

“Boris Johnson has defended his refusal to extend free school meals for children in England over the half-term holiday, saying he was “very proud” of the government’s support so far”. (School meals: Boris Johnson refuses to move on school meal vouchers, 2020)

Boris Johnson and the UK government extended free school meals to eligible children during the Easter holidays, as well as the summer holiday, but simply refuses to continue the scheme through the Winter when children require the most support. While he did refuse the extension, Boris Johnson apparently doesn’t want to see children going hungry. Pressure has risen on him and his team to rethink the issue, while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already introduced food voucher schemes.

Many people who received the support and vouchers before have called it an “absolute lifeline” for their families, especially towards the families who are at a significant disadvantage with disabilities. Some parents forego their own meals so their children can eat.

Many people can also side with the government, however, as resources have significantly depleted thanks to the coronavirus. The UK government are running low and simply cannot afford to provide said support. On the other hand, is this a question on the economics? or the morals?

Some say that if children can no longer have free school meals, then the MPs must also have their lunch subsidiaries taken away as well.

References

BBC News. 2020. School Meals: Boris Johnson Refuses To Move On School Meal Vouchers. [online] Available at: <https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-54692880> [Accessed 26 October 2020].

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Research Material

Foreign Aid

What even is foreign aid?

Foreign aid is the support and assistance provided by donors such as governments or NGOs, NPOs, among others, for reasons ranging from moral and altruistic interest to political and economic ones. (Quiviger, 2020).

Foreign aid can take many forms, from the transfer of basic resources such as food and medical supplies to grants and loans. However, more rare cases of foreign aid can also include training and advice provided by developed nations on farming or school methods. One example is the donation of £230m by the UK to West Africa in the fight against Ebola.


Figure 1 displays the top countries most generous in providing foreign aid, along with the figure relative to GNI.

Foreign aid has always been an important discussion in UK parliament, as well as other governments around the world, as rich and developed countries have been encouraged to continue funding promises to emerging and developing countries. The UK’s current foreign aid target is an expenditure of 0.7% of GNI (gross national income) on overseas aid for five consecutive years, committed back in 2017, representing a total of £14 billion. While many people believe that foreign aid is crucial in providing support to nations who need assistance, as we simply are able to, many others believe that it is worthless, as the issues of poverty and inequality are fueled by instability and corruption within these developing countries. Does the aid actually go to those who need it? Or does it end up in the hands of the corrupt? There is also the question of how effective is the aid if it is solely provided in the short term? Or is there a need for continuous assistance that extends over the long run?


Many people also believe that foreign aid programmes are an example of the failure of government intervention (Boone, 1996). Boone finds that aid does not significantly increase investment within the countries who receive it, nor does it improve HDI (human development indicators), but does, in fact, increase the size of the government. The effectiveness of aid does not vary according to how democratic a government is, or how free a country may be, as the political elite may continue to reap the benefits of the programmes.

References

Boone, P., 1996. Politics and the effectiveness of foreign aid. European Economic Review, 40(2), pp.289-329.

Myers, J., 2020. Foreign Aid: These Countries Are The Most Generous. [online] World Economic Forum. Available at: <https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/08/foreign-aid-these-countries-are-the-most-generous/> [Accessed 26 October 2020].

Quiviger, W., 2020. WHAT IS FOREIGN AID AND DOES IT WORK? | IE School Of Global Public Affairs. [online] IE School of Global Public Affairs. Available at: <https://www.ie.edu/school-global-public-affairs/faculty-and-research/ie-explains/foreign-aid-work/> [Accessed 26 October 2020].