What's happening?

The finances of a student
05 Aug 2014
by Rebecca Dutton
Matthew Bullin

Matthew Bullin

By Matthew Bullin

One of the hottest topics of debate in the media currently is the tuition fees that students have to pay to their universities.  At £9,000 a year (plus living costs) it is an outrageously expensive endeavour for anyone who wants to gain a degree in this day and age.

As a student myself

having just completed my first year, I am already in about £12,000 of debt, due to the tuition costs, rent and general necessities like food (and a student necessity: alcohol!)  So when I finish my degree, I will be in about £35,000 of debt by the time I’m 21, which is a lovely thought.

The price of tuition fees seems particularly ridiculous when you take into account I only have five lectures, three seminars and two workshops a week for an English Literature degree.  Each being an hour long, giving me a total of just 10 contact hours per week.

Whereas subjects like the chemistry and engineering have closer to 30 hours contact time per week, with the use of expensive lab equipment and materials.  And the students still pay the same as us English Lit students, who even have to shell out £40 extra each for various poetry anthologies that are opened about twice throughout the whole year, as well as all the other books on our horrifically long reading list.

I’m not saying that engineering students should pay more than the already tremendous £9,000, but surely it’s logical for students to pay a fee that is in accordance with their amount of contact hours and use of equipment?

Another weight on the shoulders of English students is the fact Scottish and Welsh students have their fees heavily subsidised by the SAAS and Student Finance Wales respectively, whether they attend a Welsh, Scottish or even English university. But if an English student goes to university in Cardiff or Edinburgh they have to pay the full £9,000 a year.

Interestingly the UK’s drop out rates of higher education are the lowest in Europe, which makes you wonder if people stay at university despite being unhappy –  just so they don’t waste the large investment they’ve already made.

Being in one of the first year groups to have these enormous costs put on us, I am interested to see what happens in about 10 years time when there is a generation of graduates, all in £30,000 of debt, trying to get mortgages.

Could we see living with your parents until you’re 25 or 30 becoming the norm?  I hope not.  But it is difficult to see any other way of going unless drastic changes in tuition fees are made by the current Government, to rectify the poor decision making of recent years.

So, it would seem that there is currently no light at the end of the tunnel for the UK’s future graduates. Using the helpful ‘repayment calculator’ on the Student Finance website, it would seem that I’ll be paying back this student loan for about 25 years.  Fantastic.

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