This is the time of year when hundreds of students from my constituency will be starting university. It’s a big step for them and an important one for our country as we strive to boost the knowledge economy.
Fifty years ago Harold Wilson spoke about the “white heat of technology” and that challenge has both speeded up and grown since.
New, and emerging economies from South America to East Asia see investment in higher education as a route to prosperity. A strong economy today is not measured in geography, natural resources or population as much as the quality and skills of its workforce.
For Britain it’s not just about how many young people go to University but who goes. There’s the “forgotten 50%” who previously did not go into higher education but nevertheless will be working in an economy of high paying technical and professional jobs.
Then there’s the ability of young people from poorer homes accessing University. More of them – thankfully – are doing so.
But what about those from households who though not poor are by no means well off and who may be put off by the cost?
I should declare a personal interest here. Having voted for tuition fees in the past it is interesting how experience informs your view. I stand by my view that students should bear part of the cost but £9,000 – which I opposed – is just too high.
For now however I wish every student and their parents good luck in the rollercoaster of university learning and of paying for it.