Tuesday, 9 October 2012

9K? No way

Now, I know I've prattled on about the rise in tuition fees before and hey, it cheekily shot up a few months before I was set to start university myself so I think it I had every right to be annoyed and start escapades like this:

photo courtesy of the immensely talented Catherine Bialley

Anyhow, I have since started at the University of Sheffield and have been reading my own body weight in philosophy books (see if you can guess what I'm studying) and I absolutely love everything about it. I've wanted to go to university ever since I was knee high and I freely admit (how am I such a nerd?) that I loved every stage of my education. In particular A levels got me interested in philosophy and history at a level I'd never even thought about previously and I relished the challenge that they presented.

I've barely been at Sheffield but already, I've loved everything. I've loved the social aspect, I've made new friends (I know right, who'd have seen that one coming!), I've started climbing again and I've got involved with the love of my life/Amnesty International (more on this coming very soon). And, of course, the academic side is incredible. I absolutely love my course and the excuse to read about philosophy all the time and find out more about something which truly fascinates me is pretty much a dream come true. I even managed to throw in a couple of additional history modules so I get to learn about Europe from the Romans until today and our library not only has more books than I could even imagine to be possible in one place, but it also has showers.

So the idea of the trebling of fees (cheers once again for that one Cleggy <3) putting off potential students makes me really sad. The idea of so many talented people (young and old) put off attending university and the opportunities it brings because of the immense amount of debt it also brings is really a tragedy for us as a nation and such a waste of potential. Of course many people will go on to establish successful careers for themselves and will prosper without ever even entertaining the idea of attending university which is fair play and, some people were seeing university as a way of dossing about for another three years before starting out in the real world. But what about the people who were put off from even inquiring further?

University applications dropped by around 15, 000 this year, as fees were raised which scared the average person after being put forward by a man who had the finest education money could buy (here's looking at you Cameron). Thankfully, the NUS have not stopped fighting for educational equality, hence Demo 2012 a nation wide protest aimed at making the voices of students heard and forcing the government to listen.

Educate, Employ, Empower

You can find out more about the campaign on their official website here and check out the movement of #demo2012 on twitter.

1 comment:

  1. Well written article but I think that the idea that tuition fees are likely to reduce equality of access is not really accurate. Seeing as they're a guaranteed loan which is only paid off once you're earning a reasonable salary, they essentially affect all students equally are are better thought of as a tax on graduates. This could actually be a good thing from the point of view of dissuading those who would study for a bad degree in a bad subject from a bad university and consequently end up with no real chance of graduate employment, but that's a somewhat different debate.

    The people who are most disadvantaged by the current system are those who have parents who earn reasonable amounts, but who are either unwilling or unable to support them financially. The government assumes but does not require that parents who earn reasonably well will support their children through university, with the obvious consequence that some children from middle class families are unable to go to university simply because their parents don't want them to. This is a rare (but plausible) situation, but a far more common one is that the parents have two or even three children simultaneously studying and, as this is not taken into account in the application for maintenance grants, it places a huge and sometimes unmanageable financial burden on parents of multiple children.

    Back to tuition fees, it seems obvious that if a student is put off university by what can be considered to be a fairly small tax in later life, they did not expect to benefit significantly from it. If a prospective student does not think that they can earn at least something of the order of 9% more on average because of their degree, one has to question their motives in going to university. Any good degree from and good university will pay for itself many times over over the life of the graduate and I would argue that any "talented" prospective student considering such a degree would realise this and hence not be put off by tuition fees. The alternative of paying for university through other taxes which are paid regardless of whether a person went to university (because ultimately the same amount of money has to be raised somehow) would seem less "fair" than only taxing those who benefit significantly from the system.

    Sorry for the long post, merely a rambling collection of my thoughts on the subject, but I think that there's a reasonable argument for tuition fees in there somewhere!