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.