Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Tuition Fees – Money, Money, Money

Tuition fees have to be reviewed by the government this year, and a survey by the BBC reports that universities want fees increased to between £4,000 and £20,000 per year. Of the vice chancellors interviewed two thirds believed fees had not deterred applications from poorer families.

I went to university a few years after means-tested tuition fees were introduced, the amount of financial help given by the government was judged on my parents income before tax. The government isn't digging deep in their pockets to help people out, they're making it as difficult as they can for people to claim anything.

The idea that it hasn't put people from lower incomes off is ridiculous, could people from lower incomes seriously consider becoming a doctor or vet with a potential £21,000 commitment, even before student loans and interest added? Raising it to the £7,000 suggested will make it a £42,000 commitment before loans and that's not going to put people off?

I'm not idealistic enough to say there should be no financial commitment from people in university, as there are so many people going onto higher education now. I accept it costs the government a lot of money, but there are ways for it work without penalising people. Especially since higher education has filled the role of apprenticeships, leaving people with few options.

Labour need to look at the system that's in place. Moving courses to colleges or adult learning that are just interest based would save money and resources. Quality not quantity is needed, this is far more important than targets that no one other than Labour care about. Higher education should be available to everyone, not just the privileged. Increasing tuition fees will just create even more of a divide between lower and higher income earners.

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