Education vouchers and the public interest

David Williams, James Love (Editor)

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Proposals for radical reform in the financing of primary and secondary education through the introduction of some form of voucher scheme, with payments made to parents who, in turn, pay fees to the schools that their children attend, have come in the United Kingdom almost entirely from people who are associated with the right wing of the Conservative Party. It is partly for this reason that members of other political groups, as well as spokesmen of the teachers' unions, have been reluctant to examine the proposals in detail (at least in public), indulging instead in dismissive phrases about "discredited voucher proposals" (Fred Jarvis) and "populist nostalgia" (Peter Smith). The purpose here is not to explore the relative merits of different forms of voucher scheme, but to explain some of the benefits that would be gained by introducing an appropriate form of scheme, to examine the principal objections to vouchers and to consider a central premise of the proposals currently being advocated by the Conservative right, namely that a shift to a voucher scheme permits reduced public expenditure on education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-58
Number of pages4
JournalQuarterly Economic Commentary
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 1986


  • education vouchers
  • public expenditure


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