If you're on furlough however, perhaps sporting a relatively comfortable lifestyle - think your middle management type of position, you receive very nearly your full pay packet - entirely for free.
This compares with a student loan of £9,000 per year (or there abouts) which most students (myself excluded but that’s another article discussion) can claim from the government with a rate of interest below that of nearly any commercial bank loan – currently around 6% (so above the rate of inflation but also inclusive of costs to administer the loan scheme and also the real rate of interest) which seems relatively fair, if you put it into perspective of the real world of money. You also get it written off in 30 years…
My current irritation, now longstanding irritation frankly, is that as a student who now must pay back their loan amount over thirty years, plus the rate of interest that I have borrowed at – something that, in theory at least, could be as high as 30% or above (though unlikely), I am being rather punished for my attitude of getting out of my situation and charging ahead, bettering myself, and hoping to earn higher.
The current system of loans essentially penalises those of us who have decided to lift ourselves from poverty through education, which surely is the complete opposite of what any government should be doing.
As a now briefly unemployed person (between the end of undergrad and the start of my masters), I understand that now – I can claim a hefty sum of money for doing very little. A sum I could not claim when I was a student – barred by my aspirations and duty to learn – as I could instead borrow from the Government at a reasonable rate of interest.
Back in the day, as my dear mother’s friend was telling me, you could – rather than get a grant or a loan for university, students would claim unemployment benefits and pay for their living (mainly a hearty lifestyle of beans and beer, modest to say the least but rather excitable).
Shortly however, a system of maintenance grants was set up with the Government of the day realising – students needed a proper system to apply to and fund their studies (ever the love of a new government department…) and so, the maintenance grant was born.
Now however, students encounter an altogether familiar set of bureaucracy, except now – they pay for the pleasure on the tail end – encountering not a loan but a loan with interest and not the good kind you might find in a pre-Covid era nightclub either... Admittedly, few students ever pay off this loan – heaven forbid I do… but it is surely the principle that we should be encouraging young men and women to go off to university, specialise and bring productivity to their chosen area of fancy.
Either this or, we should bring about an altogether fairer system whereby the state charges the claimer of unemployment benefits, or furlough payments, an interest rate on their loan – the loan that kept them afloat during their period of unfortunate unemployment. This overall would represent a much fairer system – not only for students but the entirety of society. Why should one man get free money whilst the rest of the tax paying corps is left with an unpaid bill at the end – a bill they will almost certainly have to write off in the end.
Therefore, the only way to solve this great level of injustice is to introduce a loan system for those on furlough, the unemployed, and anyone that receives free cash from the Government at any time in order to introduce some fairness to the system but also hold back the impacts of demand for goods and services that are not being produced. Students must pay their fees, so why not all?