Melody Cheung, 16, St Paul's Secondary School Austerity measures are implemented to cut government spending in a country experiencing financial trouble. When the governments of Greece and Britain announced they would reduce spending on education, students and teachers took to the street in protest. Education is vital for the development of a country and plays an important role in economic recovery. With that in mind, I don't think it is a good idea to cut expenses on tertiary education. However, some European countries are so debt-ridden that they might soon have to default on foreign loans. So they have to act fast to reduce the size of the bloated public sector while also increasing revenue. Tertiary education subsidies fall into that category. Such subsidies include scholarships, student loans, and public subsidies for housing, transportation, medical expenses, and textbooks. In 2005, subsidies to students accounted for 25 per cent of government spending on tertiary education in Britain. Reducing those costs could help balance the budget in the short term. Among other measures, the government could cut the number of scholarships awarded to students. I disagree, however, with plans to also cut allowances for daily necessities for needy students. Doing so would add significantly to the financial burden of students. Austerity measures are needed to save a debt-stricken country from defaulting. Hopefully, cutting tertiary education subsidies will be just a short-term policy. Charmain Li, 18, Imperial College London Although Greece's massive budget deficit makes austerity measures necessary, it's not a valid reason to cut subsidies for education and healthcare. Education is vital for sustainable economic growth. It increases the value of human capital in an economy by enabling the workforce to be more skilled, which increases productivity. Without education and a competent workforce, it is hard for a country to progress and overcome economic problems. If tertiary education subsidies were cut, this would severely impact low-income citizens. They might not be able to afford to send their children to university. Education would become a privilege of the well-off, which would widen the rich-poor gap. Many students would not progress beyond secondary education. Many bright young people might simply drop out of school, rather than burden their parents with high tuition fees and student loans. That trend would have long-lasting consequences. I don't think any government would want to shoulder the blame of shutting many people off from quality education. Instead, the government should seek to reduce funding for other areas such as unemployment benefits and welfare payouts as part of its austerity programme. Even though it may cause pain and protests within the community, it would act as an incentive for citizens to work harder and try to reduce the deficit collectively. No matter how bad a country's deficit is, a government should never reduce long-term investments in education and healthcare.