For students today, the most disturbing headline was the recent news that our course fees will be facing a large jump from the fee we pay now.
The current rate, which is over £3,000 per year for many students, could be making a huge £2,000 increase, bringing the average cost of a year at university (with the added £3,000 accommodation fee) to a staggering £8,000 a year, and a total £24,000 for the average 3 year course.
That’s not even including additional expenses, such as bus fees, food costs and of course, the 4 or 5 £40+ books a term that every student has to buy for their course. I for one struggle to keep buying my recommended texts and keep out of my overdraft at the same time, and many of my friends have completely used their overdrafts and have nowhere to turn to get the money they need to continue their education. Where on earth are we expected to get this money from?
Many will argue that grants are in place to help those from underprivileged backgrounds. But the grant system doesn’t work. It is based purely on the income of the student’s parents, but not the amount of money they actually receive. Based on my parents income I am entitled to no grants, however I do not receive any funding from my parents towards my education – going to university was my own choice and so I fund it alone by taking out the full maintenance loan. However, this loan doesn’t even cover my accommodation, so my only option was to work along side my course, with the possibility of effecting my studies, or take out a higher interest loan to over the costs.
In this Guardian article, the UUK claims that the huge £2,000 rise ‘would not deter students’. I’d love to see the figures of just how many students they interviewed, and from which universities they were from. In the current economic climate students are already struggling to pay for their education and have the added stress of job uncertainty after they graduate. How anyone can say that no student in the whole of the country would not be deterred from university by this huge increase is completely ridiculous.
An even scarier Independent article claimed that fees must rise to £7,000 in order to keep high quality teaching. To put this into perspective, this could cost a medical student (with their 5 years of studying) £50,000 to complete their studies, again not including additional expenses. The higher paid jobs like those in medicine may soon return to being only in reach of the rich students, who can rely on mummy and daddy to foot the bill.
The people making these decisions have no idea of the impact they will cause. They enjoyed a free university education and the students in Gordon Browns Scottish constituency and the rest of Scotland still enjoy this free education, funded by the English tax payer.
Finally, lets remember that universities are hardly a drain on the government – Leeds University boosted a £422 million turnover in 2006/7.
Any students reading please give your views and opinions, and those that agree with what I’ve written here, visit the NUS website to see how you can try and stop the fee increase.