Its a tough one, when to make a student pay for their education. Well its not really, as not many students can pay for it before hand therefore they will have to pay afterwards, the real question is do universities charge the student, or does the government charge the student.
The two options, in brief, are for a student to pay higher tuition fees, which they will have to (generally) pay with a loan, and then pay off after they graduate, get a job, and earn a certain amount of money.
The Graduate Tax would tax students after they are earning and would be proportionate to their earnings after graduation and have a lower threshold before payment begins.
So, on the face of it, they sound the same, or at least similar, so where is the problem.
The initial issue is that with the Graduate Tax, how would we know that it is going to the Universities? Also there would be an easy get out, move abroad after graduation. But when they graduate, they will no doubt have other loans (living expenses etc), so why tax them as well. If the Government find it difficult to tell when both partners are working and therefore can not do their Child Benefit changes fairly, how on earth will they keep track of someone graduating, getting a job, keeping an eye on their salary, wha about those who stay on for Masters, PhDs etc etc.
Should we be doing this at all. UK PLC would not run without Graduates and it is well recognised that a graduate returns around £2.50 for every £1 invested. If we scare students away from wanting degrees in the first place, would the rest of our industry collapse in on itself?
I think that a better system for the student is (if we have to choose one) the higher tuition fees. It is much more manageable in the long run.