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Student fees

(112 Posts)
Anniebach Mon 05-Feb-18 09:03:42

Fair or not?

caocao Sat 17-Feb-18 12:07:09

Looking at the full facts regarding the proposed new system, which scraps the tuition fee grant ALL students from Wales will be worse off under the new system, even those from the poorest families. It's smoke and mirrors.

Lilyflower Sat 17-Feb-18 12:10:59

When my mother left my father she earned so little that my teaching degree (no fees then) came with a full grant of £1000 a year.

At the time only about the top 10 per cent of sixth form students went on to do degrees and there were, as I say, no fees.

When my own children were going through the education system the New Labour argued that poorer people were subsidising the rich to attend university free. They wished to extend university attendance to the top 50 per cent of the school cohort and argued that a graduate would earn £400,000 more over a lifetime than a non graduate.

I have watched the results of the introduction of £1000 and £3000 fees per annum by Labour and the raising of the top limit to just over £9000 for the 'best' universities by the Conservatives with interest.

What happened:-

-The £9000 limit became the default minimum immediately. The least well performing universities charged the same as Oxford and Cambridge. There was, in effect, no market at all as was intended.
-A degree which, when 10 per cent of the cohort held it, was worthwhile, became devalued when half of the students had one. Many of these students were not academic at all and courses and standards had to be dumbed down to accommodate them further devaluing a degree.
-Steep divisions between the value of different institutions and different degrees became apparent although all the students were paying the same for their tuition. This made maths from Cambridge much more worth having than media studies from the Iniversity of West London, for example.
-With the new influx of huge amounts of money universities hiked the salaries of their very senior staff and started huge building projects on borrowed money. Neither really much improved the experience or standards of education for the students.
-At the same time much teaching work was hived off to unpaid graduates, again, to the detriment of students.
-Many arts and humanities course were run with minimal teaching hours. My child had six hours a week of English degree teaching for her £9000 which was clearly inadequate.
-The latest drawback of the new system is that,in order for universities to secure their £9000 without having to put too much effort into teaching the students, they are n ow making unconditional offers to the clever, well educated children of the middle classes.

There are many other points that could be made about this higher education feeding frenzy but it is clear that the whole system is now a mess and almost more unfair to the students that the situation when only the academic children attended university.

Interestingly, my child, who had a first from a top university, and her partner, who has a masters in physics, say that they will not send their children to university but will guide them towards professional apprenticeships and pay for prep schools to give them a good start.

maddyone Sat 17-Feb-18 12:17:58

Excellent post Lilyflower, you are right on every point you have made.

grandtanteJE65 Sat 17-Feb-18 12:27:42

As a former university lecturer, I would like to point out that "study time" is to a certain extent necessary, as any university degree should and does depend on the student being able to work independently to a great degree. It has however in the last 30 years or so provide a wonderful excuse for governments all over Europe to cut back on the number of tutors, lecturers and professors they employ in the universities. This in turn creates more and more study time.

Here in Denmark, students receive a grant that does not cover living costs, and due to the unemployment rate many are forced to take out loans in order to survive while studying. As there is little chance of getting any other kind of job than manual, unskilled labour unless one has either gone to college or to university, it is Hobson's choice.

It would be nice for young people if all education whether primary, secondary or vocational was free of charge and their grants covered living and book costs, but if this is to happen, those of us who work are going to have to pay even more income tax. As in Denmark income tax is for the lowest bracket around 54% of ones income no-one really wants to pay more, so students do take out loans, many believing that education is actually more important than buying your own property.

Oldwoman70 Sat 17-Feb-18 12:38:29

Not everyone had the opportunity to go to university when there were no fees, most university places were taken by those whose parents were able to subsidise them (I accept not all). No-one from my school went to university We lived on a poor working class council estate, my father was injured in an industrial accident (before the days of compensation) and my brother and I had to leave school at 16 in order to contribute to the household budget. I think that many employers today do not take a degree very seriously as they are deemed to be "easy" or "Micky Mouse" degrees. I believe we should have more vocational colleges teaching those skills which we are currently having to import.

langelei Sat 17-Feb-18 13:18:59

No it is not fair, but that is depending on the degrees being taken and the family fortunes that should be taken into account. My darling granddaughter worked her socks off to meet the grades required to train to be a midwife but has to take a 3-year Adult Nursing degree first and then undertake the required training. There is no dispute over this, it's fine, but to then to have to hand-over her fees when she finally starts work for the hard-pressed NHS and they benefit is a little difficult to swallow. sad

luzdoh Sat 17-Feb-18 13:30:08


Silverlining47 Sat 17-Feb-18 14:07:18

As Lilyflower pointed out in her excellent post, when degree courses where 'dumbed down' and tech colleges and art colleges started to be called Universities a standard degree became devalued. I understand that nowadays a Masters degree is considered the required standard for entry for many jobs which often requires a further 2 or more years serious study.
Surely there needs to be a complete review of standards of degree, of time required to reach them and a greater encouragement and appreciation of apprenticeships.

lesley4357 Sat 17-Feb-18 14:11:46

I did an Open University degree when I was 32 as I couldn't afford to not work (husband, baby and mortgage). It took 6 years, studying evenings and weekends, whilst working full time. The fees at that time were about £400 pa, which I paid monthly. I ended up with a respected degree (employers know what determination it takes) and no debt. It was a hard slog - I have posted essays written on holiday - but worth it. I worry for my grandkids when they get older.

Horatia Sat 17-Feb-18 14:13:49

Well said Nemosmum.

durhamjen Sat 17-Feb-18 14:29:19

Well, as you all think degrees are not worth the paper they are written on, having been dumbed down, I assume none of you are going to encourage your grandchildren to go to university.
Where does that leave the schools which have to encourage 50% of their pupils to go to university?

Seems like a lot of sour grapes on here.

trisher Sat 17-Feb-18 15:06:28

I'm just so grateful to my mum and dad who believed that education was something that was never wasted no matter what someone chose to do afterwards. If someone with a Phd is a bin man and is happy being a bin man that doesn't mean their years at university were wasted. Education isn't just a means to an end but should be valued for itself.
And student loans are the biggest con trick in politics. They will probably cost more in the long run than grants. Haven't done what they were intended to do. (Which was give the government a nice lump sum when they were sold off to debt companies) and will probably have to be written off eventually.

Jalima1108 Sat 17-Feb-18 15:07:16

NemosMum you have made some very valid points.

Things may well change a lot before my DGC will be old enough to consider university, but in fact we have younger people in the family who have been able to get a job with a firm which sponsors them to take a degree plus take further qualifications, at the same time as working and learning about their chosen role from mentors in the firm.

If more firms were willing to do this, as they used to do years ago, then perhaps not so many young people would end up with horrendous student debt.

NanaMacGeek Sat 17-Feb-18 15:25:12

On another thread, there was a mention of other qualifications and routes to further education available in the 60's and 70's. Despite getting 3 good ‘A’ levels, I didn't like the few university courses that offered the subject in which I was interested and opted for a HND (Higher National Diploma) course, which was run as a sandwich course. There were three periods, for six months at a time for academic/practical study, interspersed by two six months periods in industry. I had short holidays, no long summer breaks, because that is when I worked, and was paid by my placement employers enough to cover, rent, food and save a little.

My work placements were completely different experiences, one in an agricultural research station, the second with a major food manufacturer (still a leading brand name). When I qualified, I was offered work by the last team I worked with. They said I had impressed them, not only by my abililty to learn and do the work, but also my work ethic. I never looked back and am so grateful for the readily transferable skills I acquired and have built on ever since.

I can't help wondering why such courses died out. It would be possible to double up on student numbers, two cohorts a year going through (one cohort carrying out academic study while the second was on work placement) supported by businesses, good work experience and employers getting the chance to feed back where necessary skills are lacking and being able to take their pick of good candidates.

I received a small grant for this but it was reduced to take into account the periods of work placement and my parents also made a small contribution. I also worked for 3 months before going to college, saving every penny.

trisher Sat 17-Feb-18 15:53:14

I suspect that companies are no longer prepared to provide the financial backing those courses needed NanaMac Geek. Short term profits over long term funding for training.

Luckygirl Sat 17-Feb-18 15:59:23

My 3 DDs all had to take out loans for uni. The third arrived there, having organised accommodation, and found that she only had lectures/tutorials on 2 consecutive days each week and it would have been cheaper for her to have B&B one night a week and come back home - about 60 miles away.

I do think that if this is all the time that is needed, then degrees might be telescoped into two years, or even 18 months.

Luckygirl Sat 17-Feb-18 16:00:30

I have to say that when I did my degree I had a very full timetable from first thing in the morning till 5 pm. I cannot help wondering about the potential drop in quality caused by such meagre hours of study.

durhamjen Sat 17-Feb-18 16:04:14

It depends on what you do. My granddaughter worked as hard for her degree in education as I did.

Luckygirl Sat 17-Feb-18 16:07:31

It was History of Art. Another of my offspring did the same degree but at Warwick and she had a full timetable; so maybe it is not just the subject but the institution.

Jalima1108 Sat 17-Feb-18 18:24:37

The other thing about student loans is that the whole system is such a mess. The terms and conditions over the years have changed more than once and are fairer to some than to others as far as repayment terms go.

quizqueen Sat 17-Feb-18 19:55:39

When I left school in 1971, only about 10% of students went on to university and, in the main, the subjects studied were useful to society. The country could afford to give them free education and grants in the expectation that their later career success would be repaid in taxes.

Then Mr Blair came along and decided it would be a good idea if 50% of school leavers went on to university. It didn't matter if they were clever enough because standards and entry requirements could be lowered to suit. It didn't matter what ridiculous subjects were offered as long as targets were met and it looked like the general masses could obtain a degree of sorts. Not only could the country no longer afford to continue to offer free university education but a barely pass degree in Coronation Street or similar didn't really seem to help anyone get a job!

But that's Labour versus Conservatives for you; the politics of envy. For what it's worth, I was a working class, council house kid who was lucky enough to go to a state grammar school and then off to higher education. I was an only child but my ex was one of 3 boys. He went to uni, they weren't clever enough and had no inclination to go anyway. They went into manual trades and were just as successful as him. University is not everything and definitely not for everyone.

I am not against free university education; I had one myself. A scheme could be introduced ( maybe sponsored by businesses) which offered free tuition in certain meaningful subjects like medicine/engineering etc. which required a contract to be signed that commits the recipient to work and pay taxes in this country for a minimum of 10 years otherwise the full cost of the education would have to be repaid.

durhamjen Sat 17-Feb-18 20:04:40

Since when did fairness become envy?

NemosMum Sun 18-Feb-18 11:24:25

Martin Lewis Money Show on ITV this morning: the most brilliant explanation of Student Loans ever! Just stop worrying about student debt. Apart from not paying a penny until they earn over £21,000 (soon to be £25,000) and the debt being 'wiped' after 30 years, 83% never pay back the capital, (so the interest is not relevant) and those who do are higher earners. You cannot be made bankrupt because of student loan 'debt' and it is NOT taken into account for credit rating. It is a form of PAYE, taken by employer at source. Just choose the right course. That's what you have to worry about!

durhamjen Sun 18-Feb-18 11:33:49

Starting to repay at £21,000 seems very low.
They will be repaying before they can get on the housing ladder.

Jalima1108 Sun 18-Feb-18 11:36:42

The rules are all different, though, for student loans taken out at various periods since they were introduced.

Some will start paying back at a much lower threshold, some will have their debt wiped out after 30 years, some at age 65 and some never.

Why would 83% never pay back the capital? Does that mean that only 17% of graduates would ever earn enough to pay back their student loans, in which case what was the point of going on to higher education?
Apart from the university experience of course?