As I find myself more and more crippled with debt and having such limited contact hours at uni, I can't help but wondering, is it really worth paying 9,000 pounds a year for? Is it really cost-effective? Why should I have a degree when people my age are already working and earning more than I am?
When I hear my dad telling me how he went to university for free, it angers me how we're in so much debt from something that should be a basic right. We are able to provide free education until 18, so why does it have to stop there?
Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful I'm not in America and paying an odd 40,000 dollars a year but having the highest tuition fees in the EU is still not something to be proud of. I could understand if we were paying for the quality of learning but the style of teaching hasn't changed so much in five years that it warrants a £3,000 increase.
University has less contact hours than sixth form or college that in my first year I felt like I was more intellectually stimulated when I was in free education. With less one-on-one time, we're essentially paying nine grand because of "exceptional circumstances" (whatever that means) to essentially teach ourselves. I understand that a great deal of university is about independent study, but I certainly don't feel like I'm getting my money's worth if I have to teach myself for the majority of the time.
The reason these tuition fees were increased was to essentially take the burden off the taxpayer. However, the very idea of tax was created so that people's money can be reinvested in the country's services such as the NHS. Our economy partly works on the fact that what the average person takes out is not greater than we put in, so why is it the taxpayer doesn't have to pay for education when they have to pay for everything else that they might not necessarily directly benefit from?
It's not so much the debt that bothers me than the fact that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are deterred from pursuing higher education. The idea alone of being at least 27,000 pounds in debt (not including things like the maintenance loan) is enough to put anyone off, let alone students from poorer backgrounds.
According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), the number of undergraduate students has increased since 2004/05. However, since the increase in tuition fees in 2010/11 the number of students is on a slow decline. The coalition defended the increase in tuition fees by offering higher maintenance grants for poorer students but with the new Conservative government, they're set to be scrapped completely.
I can understand the government is going through a time of austerity where cuts have to be made, but if things are so utterly dire then why aren't concentrated efforts being made to stop multi-million dollar corporations evading tax? In a study by the organisation Tax Research, tax avoidance costs the state £25billion with £11.8billion avoided by corporations and £12.9billion avoided by individuals. If this was chased up then surely this money would go towards subsidising university feeds for those who desperately need it?
However, you're probably reading this thinking "why should I care, it's not affecting me?". Put simply, a well-educated workforce is beneficial for society as a whole - my generation are the future leaders and decision makers of the country; therefore we should make education accessible to all and make it easier for people from all walks of life to become leaders rather than the privileged and elite.
I decided to pursue higher education because I want to improve my knowledge and become a more well-rounded person. We should be encouraging our youth to enjoy learning and and to enrich their minds, not scare them with large debt figures.
Original post can be found on my blog: http://unenlightenedstudent.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/university-is-it-really-worth-cost.html