Gransnet forums


Student loans - a good or bad thing?

(44 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?

cynthiawolff Tue 25-Mar-14 15:21:19

I agree. I think living away from home does present them with more responsibilities. However, I can also see the benefit of going to a local university. Both my grandchildren have been and gone to university. One stayed at home and the other travelled a little bit further.

Granny23 Mon 24-Mar-14 23:11:04

Like your DD *Gillybob mine worked for a chain of photographic shops, firstly in Glasgow when she was at college there and then later in Newcastle where she did her degree. The firm were very proud of her progress, she was featured twice in their staff magazine, gave her large discounts and even sponsored her student films.

However, the biggest saving we made in funding our DD's tertiary education was that we put up the deposit for a 2 bed flat for each of them, they got a mortgage with us as guarantors and DH (a joiner) did some work on the flats. Both DDs took the smaller bedroom and we furnished the bigger rooms as bed sits which were let to fellow students at a rate which covered the mortgage payments. Shared utilities bills kept their accommodation costs to a minimum and by the time they had finished their degrees the value of the flats had risen which gave them a 4 year advantage on the housing ladder compared to their friends who had been paying high rents. This was 20+ years ago so I don't know if the same plan would work now. I do know that we could not have afforded the deposits if they had gone to Uni in say, Edinburgh, where house prices were much higher.

gillybob Mon 24-Mar-14 22:08:24

Most of the big chains are very flexible with their student employees GillT57 my DD worked her way through college and university with Mc Donald's who were happy for her to move between two stores during term time and holidays. although I know some students would look down their noses at working in a burger joint she did extremely well and ended up doing their management training program after her degree which set her up in very good stead for what she does now.

Tegan Mon 24-Mar-14 17:14:29

Whats the position with nurses having to obtain a nursing degree?

annodomini Mon 24-Mar-14 16:52:25

One anomaly I discovered about student loans when I was a CAB volunteer: a single parent mature student can claim various benefits, like housing benefit and council tax relief, but the student loan counts as income against their eligibilty to claim benefits. Weird, considering that they will eventually be obliged to pay back the loan.

GillT57 Mon 24-Mar-14 15:27:03

My son is at University and his student loan doesn't cover his accommodation, so we pay for the shortfall, plus his share of electric/gas/water in his shared house, plus food. He doesn't go out much, they generally just visit each others houses for a shared pizza and beer, or watch a film. he has tried to get a part time job, but employers are generally not interested when they realise you are only living there part of the year. He generally relies on working as a labourer for a friend of mine when he is at home, then saves that to live on for the next 10 weeks or so. He is not doing a Mickey-Mouse degree, is at a Russell Group University, but I agree that many course offered now would have been HND at one time. Degrees in Events Management? Tourism? Golf Course Management?

granjura Mon 24-Mar-14 13:54:04

Depends where you live, but when ours were at Uni- we had a lodger during term-time (student from our local uni) to cover accom cost- it really helped.

janerowena Mon 24-Mar-14 13:39:49

I have to admit that my son agrees with you on that one...

Deedaa Sun 23-Mar-14 21:38:30

I know we are not supposed to denigrate today's school leavers, and I know they all worked terribly hard to get their A levels but when I had students working with me during the holidays I couldn't believe it when some of them claimed to be at University. On the whole their grammar and vocabulary were terrible and their maths was worse. They had no grasp of history, geography or current affairs and all seemed to be doing Media Studies or Business Management.

janerowena Sun 23-Mar-14 20:47:07

The problem is that many employers who in the good old days would take on school leavers with maybe a handful of GCSEs (banks and building societies for example) now require degrees. Many jobs require degrees, just have a look, it is laughable. Even many estate agents. And then you can understand why we have to fight to get our children into universities.

My son doesn't receive enough loan to cover his accommodation, we have to cover it for him. Some students he knows have perhaps £10 a week to live on once their rent is paid, and have no help at all from family. Most of his friends have to work and study at the same time, no matter how hard or time-consuming their course. My son spends around 10 hours a week conversing with language students online to supplement his income, and belongs to the OTC for which he receives an allowance. He goes out once a week on a night and a time when it is cheap. He never goes out on a Saturday night, he can't afford to. No takeaways, he does his own cooking. yes, some students are wealthier than him, but that is usually because they have managed to find a good part-time job. He lives in a very expensive city, which doesn't help. I'm really proud of the way he has made his money go so far, and how he doesn't splurge or have takeaways.

granjura Sun 23-Mar-14 20:31:15

papaoscar, I agree- but it has been shown clearly that a 'Mickey mouse' type Degree is totally unhelpful- and actually works against you in many cases- as salary, etc, expectations are skewed afterwards (partly due to ahving to repay loan)- as said, often much better to start at the bottom of a company and work up- and it could actually take less time.

absent Sun 23-Mar-14 20:17:15

If ever there was a "scribble on the back of an envelope" policy, it was Tony Blair's bright idea that 50% of young people should go to university. This resulted in the introduction of tuition fees – led by a man who never had to pay them and passed in Parliament at Westminster only with the aid of Scottish MPs who wouldn't have to implement the policy. It has also led to an unreal obsession with qualifications and underwater basket weaving degree subjects. A generation has been deliberately misled – even betrayed – into thinking that if they have a BA or BSc, they will walk into a bright and highly paid future with no further effort.

granjura Sun 23-Mar-14 20:14:52

Indeed very sad that this is the case in the UK- and not a healthy position. We need to learn to respect proper trades again- and give people pride in said trades again, and train people properly - as is still the case in many European countries (and one of the reasons Poles and Czechs are so sought after in the UK).

papaoscar Sun 23-Mar-14 20:12:09

Trouble is that the employment prospects for the non-qualified are limited so university attendance is almost mandatory, with all the associated costs. In the old days apprentiships and/or colleges would have provided training opportunities but now secondary school seems to lead directly to university for many youngsters.

Ana Sun 23-Mar-14 19:56:38

Exactly, granjura. I'm always bemused by Gransnetters who are already worrying about how their (very young) GC will be able to afford to go to Uni, as though it's a necessary rite of passage or a 'given'.

granjura Sun 23-Mar-14 19:51:31

Some youngsters would be far better off not going to Uni- I can think of quite a few who would have been much better to get into an job or apprenticeship and work their way up- but instead went to uni for all the wrong reasons- and at times because of parents expectations- and are still struggling to find a job (especially as they chose 'Mickey Mouse' degrees not worth the paper they're written on).

JessM Sun 23-Mar-14 18:57:27

Life ain't fair, in so many ways.
It would be pretty chaotic if the scenario developed whereby English and Welsh students were frantically competing to get places in Scottish universities because tuition was free.

Eloethan Sun 23-Mar-14 17:11:44

I'm always torn on this question and I find some of my feelings are contradictory.

On the one hand, I think it is good that more young people have the opportunity to go to university. However, although I don't think that learning should just be about getting a job, I do feel that it is wrong to encourage young people to embark on a course for which there is only a small chance of getting a job connected to the subject studied - unless this is made quite clear to them at the outset.

I also feel that some students go to university just because most of their friends are going - not because they have a real interest in a particular subject or because they need a specific degree to do the job they want to do. I remember seeing a contestant on The X Factor who moaned about going to university and being expected to "read all those boring books".

Like JessM said, if a significant proportion of young people go to university, is it realistic - or even right - that they should make no financial contribution. Is it fair to young people who are less academically able or who, through personal circumstances, have to earn money, to expect their taxes to pay for those more fortunate young people who can go to university and who, in theory at least, will earn more during their lifetimes? (although I think the current fees are too high).

In my opinion, there is not enough emphasis on non-academic training and people are not properly valued for their practical skills or physical hard work.

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.

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 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).

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%.

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.

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?

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