Country mouse on tuition fees

Thinking of what to buy the family at Christmas doesn’t get any easier with age. It was simple when they were children; when they’re teenagers, it becomes trickier, as they get fussier and desire more expensive presents. The boys don’t want the same things.

In the past, Charlie has unwrapped a silver flute, painting oils and canvasses and Harry cricket bats and Australian rugby shirts (his support for his mother’s country is happily being put under some strain by the current Ashes series). We always try to be fair, although they are entirely different characters. They have, I hope, been brought up to understand that we try and do our best for them under a simple creed of what is right and what is wrong.

The rise in student tuition fees has blown this fairness apart. Harry, who is doing his A levels next year, will go through university paying £9,000; Charlie, who is two years younger, will have to pay £27,000. It’s hard to explain to Charlie why his age group has been picked out. How, as parents, can we be even-handed, when the State has skewed the scales?