Lunchtime news is that the Coalition Government has altered the way that Universities will charge students for their course. The proposals (yet to be approved by the House of Commons) make way for Universities to charge up to £9,000 a year for a course, although more typically this is expected to be around £6,000.
The current tuition fee is set at a flat rate of £3,290 for all courses and all Universities. This is typically paid for by applying for the Tuition Fee Loan. The obvious point to make is that loans in the future will be much larger (at least double). As a result students and their parents will be keen to ensure that the selected course is good value for money. The consequence of which is that Universities will certainly have to be price aware and clearly increase their marketing profile.
Another consequence is that some, perhaps many of the smaller courses will simply close due to a lack of interest from students. In addition, one suspects that the number of students living at home will also increase.
The Tuition loan itself will now be linked to an agreed rate of interest as well as inflation, which appears to be offered at inflation+3%. The concession from the Government is that the loan will now not need to be repaid until the student is employed and earning £21,000 as opposed to £15,000 at present. The loan is repaid gradually directly from a payslip each month.
This is of course a hugely political issue. Setting aside any personal view for the moment, the increase in fee suggests that courses have been heavily subsidised by Governments and that the current view is that this is not fair on the taxpayer.
Of course the “value” of education is brought into the spot light once again – are we better off having a society of well-educated citizens to Degree level and certainly this is a personal question that the student must ask of themselves before embarking on a course. I am not one of those that believes our youth are less intelligent than predecessors and knowing the workloads of my daughters and other young people I find this particularly irksome. If students are not prepared, that has more to do with a national curriculum that attempts to standardise learning and only proffer students likely to do well up for examination. We all know that an enthusiastic and inspriational teacher is worth his/her weight in gold, we also know that many find their way into teaching for lack of a better idea – as in all walks of life.
Certainly we must engage with the price of education, but the potential cost of a poorly educated society, struggling to keep pace with a global workforce is certainly a “concern” after all these are the very people that will make policy in our dotage.
As a quick guide, I estimate that with the new £6,000 Tution fee, the annual cost of University is likely to be in the region of £12,500 per student once allowing for housing and living costs… perhaps we will see a return to old-style student digs.
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