Gransnet forums


Student loans - a good or bad thing?

(43 Posts)
papaoscar Sat 22-Mar-14 11:37:23

I was lucky enough to receive my education at no extra expense to myself or my parents, and I am very sad to think that my grandchildren will be saddled with large personal debts when they finish their education. Whilst I think it's reasonable that students contribute something I don't think that the present arrangements are acceptable. Particularly as regards the disparate treatment in different parts of the UK. That is just not fair. What are your views?

granjura Sat 22-Mar-14 11:48:17

Mixed feelings- but I have to say, the amount of debt incurred by students is also linked to the modern expectations with regard to accommodation, food and drink, outings, holidays, etc. When I was a student, we never had holidays unless it was YHA or camping, an outing was a beer or two with friends at the pub, not expensive clubbing, etc, we wore jeans and t-shirts, didnn't have cars, didn't buy fast food or ready meals, didn't go to restaurants, we lived in uncomfortable and very simple digs, etc. When fast figures are quoted re student debts, I wonder how much is due to unrealistic expectations re above.

JessM Sat 22-Mar-14 11:52:59

It is not possible to have 43% of young people going to university and funding them all heavily. The previous system, under which a few of us had a very privileged higher education (grammar or private followed by university) was very elitist and didn't produce enough well educated people for the labour market.
I think the new system is much better, it is in effect a graduate tax that kicks in when incomes reach a certain level (about 20k I think). This is a pretty good deal.
This is much better than having a loan account that has to be paid down by the person over the years as in the first version of student loans.
I also think that many students spend a LOT more money on entertainment than we ever did in the 60s/70s and that contributes to their debt.
And that universities don't actually produce people with the right qualifications for the labour market. But that is another story.
I interviewed a young man this week who worked hard in a 2/3 job all through his degree and got his career off to a flying start.

jinglbellsfrocks Sat 22-Mar-14 13:07:28

They were saying on the Today programme that the government has n't got a hope in Hell of getting the money back as graduates are often so poorly paid. Sounds alright to me. I believe the interest is very low.

grannyactivist Sat 22-Mar-14 15:01:08

I have one son at university and one who has just completed his degree. Both my sons have had jobs since they were fourteen, but as they took highly academic subjects (Maths and Engineering) they would struggle to hold down jobs in term time and do justice to their studies. As a consequence they work/ed only during the holiday periods. Both took a year out to save before starting uni and neither are great partygoers. Even so, they have (with student loan plus assistance from parents and grandparents) only just managed to keep solvent. I do think that the government should pay tuition fees for courses in which the country has a skills shortage because I think it's sound economic sense.

Charleygirl Sat 22-Mar-14 16:20:42

I think it unfair that education in Scotland is free. I am unsure about Wales and NI. Are we subsidising those in Scotland?

I have seen on TV the type of flat a student expects to live in/share with others. All mod cons including a dishwasher. I shared a 2 bedroom flat with 3 others, ancient furniture and the only mod con was an immersion heater. We certainly did not have central heating there in the mid 60's.

glammanana Sat 22-Mar-14 17:37:15

Its not just the student loans that have to be found and repaid my DGS1 who is in his final year now will have to "fund" his pupilage at the Chambers he is looking to join for his final year before he qualifies and it doesn't come cheap at all thats without the required clothing he will require,I wonder how people think we can afford all the expense but it's his ambition,his brother 11mths younger has been very fortunate to have been snapped up by LandRover as a diesel Engineer and they are paying for his Education but DS1 doesn't like to get his hands dirty (mores the pity) plus they pay him a really decent salary whilst he is still at their training school & towards his living costs.

nightowl Sat 22-Mar-14 18:05:41

I think one of the worst aspects of student loans is that they reinforce to the young the idea that debt is ok. It's no good us oldies telling them to live within their means when the government is telling them it's fine to start a career thousands of pounds in debt, in fact it's essential if you want to enter a profession. No wonder the younger generation feel we don't understand! confused

Tegan Sat 22-Mar-14 18:18:10

The interest went up quite a bit a few years ago when the loans were transferred to a private company [ think]. What was a very small interest rate when my son took the loan out increased quite a lot [and we weren't really aware of it happening at the time]. I feel sorry for young people that, for one reason or another, never completed their degree courses because they still have the debt hanging over them. I still don't understand why there were so many strange degree courses available all of a sudden. And I don't think my daughter realised that her degree [History] didn't actually qualify her for a job of any kind, although she did an extra year and went into teaching. I'm sure that, at one time young people were encouraged to go to uni to take them off the unemployment figures [again; could be wrong..just being cynical].

JessM Sat 22-Mar-14 18:36:04

grannyactivst totally agree about free tuition for shortage subjects. My DH is currently applying for phd funding in a useful and highly mathematical area. There is a shortage of people applying (which works in his favour). No doubt there is hot competition for phd funding in the arts and social sciences.
The UK is having to import many thousands of software developers and testers from India because we are not producing enough, despite all this higher education (useless teaching of computers in school does not help).

granjura Sat 22-Mar-14 18:49:28

Partly due to slary dumping rather than shortage as such.

Not sure about free course for some subjects and not others- as the arts would become the prerogative of the wealthy alone. And those who qualify for shortage subjects will most of them find highly paid jobs quickly anyhow. and will be in the best position to pay back.

JessM Sat 22-Mar-14 18:57:50

What is salary dumping and to what are you referring granjura?

granjura Sat 22-Mar-14 19:30:27

It means paying foreigners less money for the same job (like Asian IT specialists in the UK- but French watch makers in my part of Switzerland, etc).

Deedaa Sat 22-Mar-14 21:18:24

I am another one who benefited from free college education in the 60's. At 18 I got a grant of £3 a week and the next year it rose to £5! We had subsidised meals in the canteen and most of my money went on fares and materials and , very occasionally, clothes. We hardly ever went out during term time apart from the odd trip to the cinema and we all went down to the pub on the last day of the term. You really could count the people who actually got drunk on the fingers of one hand.
Fast forward to the 90's and you find my daughter who got her degree before student loans came in but took several out while doing her PhD and also had to fund her husband's degree course because he was not a British citizen at the time.

JessM Sat 22-Mar-14 21:50:24

Granjura would it were so but wages in software are not low, far from it. The principle might apply somewhere but not in the UK software market. IT is taught badly in UK schools. it is nigh on impossible to recruit staff because anyone with an IT degree is doing something more lucrative. Also the curriculum taught to GCSE has been deathly boring - basically how to use spreadsheets, databases etc. All the kids are great at powerpoint. But programming - this has not been taught. A levels in computing are rare. Our kids are doing all kinds of degrees but not enough of them are doing software and other technical subjects.
And there are hardly any women going into software degrees in the UK. Far more in India. So half the potential UK talent is being lost.

JessM Sat 22-Mar-14 22:17:26

Sorry I did not mean the "would it were so". I mean it ain't so in this sector.

gillybob Sat 22-Mar-14 23:06:11

My DD has worked from the age of 14 when she took a weekend job in a local chemist chain. She worked herself through college and went on to university where she worked in McDonalds to pay her way. She is now 28 and has student debt as she was one of the most unlucky/unfortunate students who fell victim of the worst tuition fees (thank you Gordon and Tony) she earns pennies over the payback threshold and will pay every penny back via her (low) wages . I am not sure what the fuss is about now as today's students have a much better deal than they did a few years ago.

Having said that the Scottish students have it very east compared to the English and the proposed Scottish system (in my vho) appears to be racist at best, as proposed free tuition for any student within the EU with the exception of the English ????

Although I would be very happy to be corrected.

mollie Sat 22-Mar-14 23:30:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Granny23 Sun 23-Mar-14 02:13:50

Gillybob Education (like Health) is the devolved responsibility of the Scottish Government which has chosen to utilise more of its block grant in these two areas than is the case in the rest of the UK. It is a principal policy of the SNP that all levels of Education from Nursery to College or University should be provided free by the government to all Scottish domiciled students. You may remember that this was also a principal policy for the Liberals until they ditched it to enter into coalition with the Tories. It is the responsibility of the Education Department at Westminster to provide for the education of students resident, certainly in England and Wales (not sure what the position is in NI) and they have set up the system of deferred loans to cover that responsibility. If a student from the rest of the UK chooses to attend a Scottish University then they will be entitled to a deferred loan and will be no better or worse off than if they had attended an English or Welsh Uni. (Well they might be slightly better off as the fees charged by Unis are lower in Scotland).

Under EU legislation you cannot charge a student from another EU country a different rate from your own students thus EU students will be charged £9,000pa at English/Welsh universities (but not entitled to a deferred loan)and charged £0 at Scottish Universities for tuition fees but have to fund their own accommodation etc.

There is nothing 'racist' about these different decisions/priorities as decided by the relevant parliaments with responsibilities for education in their areas. It is the same, albeit on a larger scale, as Local Authorities spending their education budgets in different ways to reflect local needs or party political preferences.

Charleygirl said "I think it unfair that education in Scotland is free. Are we subsidising those in Scotland?" Well, I think it is totally unfair that education is so expensive in England/Wales but I don't know what can be done about it as all the major parties at Westminster subscribe to the principal of the student paying their own fees. As to 'Are we subsidising those in Scotland' - I am not sure who 'we' are but the complex Barnett formula ensures that the Scottish Government gets a fair percentage share of the relevant expenditure in the rest of the UK to fund the devolved responsibilities. An increase or decrease in expenditure in these budgets in England/Wales triggers the same Percentage up or down in the block grant. The SG decides how to allocate that money according to its own priorities which, since an SNP government was elected, have lain mainly in the areas of Education and Health, at the expense of other budgets such as, say, Transport and Policing.

Finally, I must say that I and I know many other Scots, take exception to random assertions of being 'subsidy junkies' and 'racists'. Bad enough when it is the London based media but very disappointing/upsetting when it is repeated by my 'friends' on Gransnet. sad

mollie Sun 23-Mar-14 08:32:53

Will this be something that has to change if Scotland becomes independent or is it committed to continuing free education?

gillybob Sun 23-Mar-14 09:33:10

I am not sure I follow Granny23 and without quoting the entire paragraph.....if under EU legislation you cannot charge a student from another EU country a different rate, how are the Scottish then able to charge English students (only) a different rate? I don't get it.

Also I would like to make very clear that I am in no way suggesting that you are a racist (I am sure you know that) the point I was trying to make is that by singling the English students out as the only ones not to benefit from the reduced rate does come across as a deliberately anti English.

Bez Sun 23-Mar-14 10:05:57

In Wales students who have their home address in Wales and have been to school in Wales receive reduced fees. My DGS completed his degree last summer and his contribution to his fees was about 55%.

granjura Sun 23-Mar-14 11:00:24

mollie, bravo- you could have had my spare room, had I known you- we hosted many students from your Uni (mine too). Must say I was lucky to have minimum grant when I did my teacher training (as a mature student with 2 young kids, but with an OH who supported me in every way)- not sure if I would have done my B.Ed.hons if it had not been for the minimum grant to help towards child care (I waited until youngest was at primary school, but it need help before and after school and to cover for illness, etc).

Elegran Sun 23-Mar-14 11:17:02

Article in DT today on the possibility of English students getting free tuition in Scottish universities if Independence gets a Yes vote. -

In a comment below the article, Son-of-Casandra posted :-

"Two reasons [for difference]

Loophole in the regulations. Because England and Wales aren't currently in a different country from Scotland, EU law doesn't force Scottish Universities to offer those places as free.

Practicality. Unlike the rest of Europe, Scotland is just a short drive or train ride in the UK, with the same culture, people, food, currency and so on. Net result would be that if free places were made available to all students in the UK, with English universities charging the ridiculous fees that they do, the Scottish universities would be completely swamped with applications from students who didn't want to pay charges in England and Wales. So that just wouldn't be workable. It's not discrimination because people are English or Welsh, it's trying to keep a lid on what would be unworkable.

I know that's unfair, but the unfairness is that English and Welsh universities charge for what should be free. The real problem is the stupidity that saw our universities being flooded with people doing make-work degrees in subjects that aren't really academic and which shouldn't be taught at university at all. The net result has been to make state funding of university education generally unaffordable to the students and to the state."

granjura Sun 23-Mar-14 12:17:50

Most young people in Europe go to a University near their home, so they can continue to live at home- which cuts costs hugely. I like the UK system of going away when at Uni- to have to learn to be more independent, cook, communal living, coping with doing own washing, etc, etc, etc- but it is hugely expensive. The only ones who travel to uni in Europe are those doing subjects where uni courses are limited to a few specilaised uni.