Tuition Fees – The elephant in the room

students have strange understandings of money

I wrote before about how Aaron Porter refused to answer whether the new system of tuition fees is more or less fair than the old system.  I wrote that blog then because I was getting frustrated with people missing the subtleties of the issue.  It appears now however, there is a rather large elephant in the room that all sides of the debate are ignoring.

The perception of money is far more important than the reality of what people have to spend. Regardless of how much money someone will end up paying to go to university, it is student’s perception of money that will in the end determine whether or not they will apply. Simply put, I opposed the rise in tuition fee’s most vehemently because of the headline figure of £9,000 (to put it into context it is exactly the same as annual salary). This sort of money makes those from middle to lower-income families’ shudder. Most students will not be thinking about potential future income levels etc…But will be reading front page newspaper headlines.  Those in power have to think about the consequences of this.

In reality, if you leave university and you earn less than £21,000 you pay nothing for your degree (I had to pay for my degree in full). This is about 50% of Britain’s current workforce.  Every pupil will pay LESS per month than they currently do under the new system.  Yet, this is not what A-levels students are thinking about.  We now have to make a concerted effort to make sure every potential student is in an educated position to make a fully informed decision about whether or not to go to university.  Yes, it might be expensive (very expensive) but only if you are earning a decent salary when you come out the other end.  University graduates will continue to be at the centre of our economic future and we cannot afford to let talented individuals mis-out on these opportunities.

Meanwhile, we who believe in a state funded education system should continue to make those arguments vehemently within our own circles.  For during this whole debate about a rise in tuition fees it should not be lost that education is a right nor a privilege.


Filed under Politics

2 responses to “Tuition Fees – The elephant in the room

  1. Martin Whiteside

    I think the real elephant in the room is how the whole higher education caboodle will actually be funded. It is all very well the Lib dem’s getting excited about how few students will actually have to pay-back their loans – more than 50% may pay nothing initially and most will pay less than they do at present (according to the Lib-dems that makes it all OK). WELL if the fees are being hiked because there is not enough money to fund Universities at present (and on top of this the coalition is cutting University funding by 80%), AND most students will be paying less than present it only needs primary school level arithmetic to understand that the funding problem has not been solved at all! its all smoke and mirrors. None of it actually adds up. The only people who will benefit will be the financial services companies who handle the highly inefficient student loan process over the next 30 years.
    Meanwhile what about education as both a right for individuals and as an economic necessity for country which will sink or swim in the future on the ability of its citizens to compete in a global knowledge economy. This is what the real debate should be about. We needed the white paper before these stupid headline fees. Meanwhile our education system is being further damaged.


  2. anya

    Steve I have two questions. Firstly you say that on current levels only half of britains work force get paid over 21 grand. Fine but what proportion of these are graduates. The gov has taken this action to raise money so i cannot believe they will have dessigned a system where many students avoid paying back their fees. Also you say we have to encourage people to go to uni irrelevant of fee rises. But is university as beneficial as its being made out to be. Is it always worth a young persons while forking out massive debts of money (which they will probably have to pay back) for 8 hours a week of contact time? For some it will be but im not convinced we should be encouraging more and more people to get degrees without thinking it through.

    Also do you know whether the loan students will get is interest free? The loan I got I was told was interest free but it clearly wasn’t. It was very low interest but interest all the same. I also don’t agree with encouraging young people that taking out loans and getting into debt is a positive tthing to do.

    I understand your point about explaining to everyone about the option of uni and the details in the govs new scheme but I think that we should also be engaging in a wider debate about the many options young people should have. Free or at the very least affordable uni education should be part of this but so should good training, apprenteships etc


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