The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Sam Wood Headshot

The Day Private Education Became Cheaper Than a State One

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

As the debate about higher education tuition fees rages on, I thank my lucky stars I chose to study at a private university in London.

I knew nothing about private universities before I started considering my options for higher education - in fact I didn't even know they existed. But deciding to study at LCA Business School, right in the heart of central London, has been one of the best decisions I've ever made.

I had no idea where I wanted to study when I finished high school but the concern that sat with me the entire time was tuition fees and student debt. The idea of paying £9000 a year to study for my degree and graduating with £27,000 of debt (before I even considered a student loan) was actually enough to put me off going to university altogether.

Then I heard about LCA; I checked out the website and saw how highly regarded it was and the accreditations it had, the courses it offered and the timetable that would allow me to work more hours than a regular part time job - it seemed too good to be true. My only concern was that it was a private university and I knew nothing about how they were run.

But after doing my research I discovered that private universities were offering much more value for money than state universities were - especially now that tuition fees are hitting the roof.

I found that in the past, fees charged by private degree providers made them financially uncompetitive against state university counterparts. It's probably the reason why so few people considered, or had even heard of, private universities - because fees simply weren't as big an issue. However now I discovered that private universities were actually offering fees that were among the lowest in the UK - and not only that but you would be studying at an institution with much smaller class sizes and an extremely high calibre of lecturers.

When I started researching courses and the options that were available to me I noticed that private providers are much more specialist than standard state universities. Of course you can study vocational subjects at public institutions but I found that private universities were very much focused on their students' future careers, as well as their current studies.

Many of the institutions I looked into provide students with fantastic opportunities to get paid work placements in the sector that they are studying. A lot of my fellow students have been offered permanent full-time jobs off the back of internships, which will be ready for them when they graduate and that must be a great weight off their shoulders.

Private universities seem to have much more structured timetables too - for example I study for two full days a week and therefore am able to hold down a decent part-time job the rest of the week, as opposed to only having one or two classes a day spread over four or five days at a state university.

All of a sudden, studying at a private university was much more appealing, especially when I considered the possibility of graduating with either very little or no debt at all.

The standard of lecturers at private universities is superb and the colleges seem to be run more like a business than a school: if you don't perform to standard, you're out. That's why private universities really get the best out of their lecturers and students.

The tuition cost is a massive factor, with the majority of private universities offering much more reasonable fees but it doesn't mean you scrimp on quality of teaching - in fact if the standard of teaching at my university is reflective across the board of private colleges I would always recommend choosing private over state.

I never thought I would say that - I'm officially a convert to private education.