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Union says graduate tax will hit key workers hard

Fears of job shortages under Cable's plans.

Teachers, nurses and social workers would all pay significantly more for a degree under Business Secretary Vince Cable's proposed graduate tax, according to a higher education union.

The University and College Union (UCU) found that under a 5% graduate tax on all earnings over 25 years, a secondary school teacher on average wages would pay £46,046, a social worker £37,550 and a nurse £36,871.

This amounts to more than triple what each would pay under the current tuition fee system. Those on longer courses, such as medicine, will end up paying over £70,000 under a 5% tax.

Even under a 3% tax an average nurse would end up paying over £22,000 for a degree.

The union said it feared that the proposed reforms could lead to job shortages in teaching and social work as people are put off by the high cost of university.