Tuition Fees - The Fallout
It's with great sadness that I've watched the various stories surrounding the tuition fees unfold. While I don't condone violence in any form, I can't help but feel that a unruly minority has over-shadowed what is a very valid protest.
As you'll know, MPs voted in favour of the controversial rise to the student tuition fees, and while I understand that, of course, these universities need to be funded somehow, I can't help but feel that it's a very sad day for our country.
Yes, I do understand how the increase in fees will work. I understand that students will not have to pay these fees upfront; and that instead they will begin to pay these fees back once they enter the workplace and earn 21k or more per annum. I also understand that there will be enhanced maintenance grants for those students from the poorest families.
However, the point I most fundamentally disagree with is that this won't put off people from going to university. In fact, I feel strongly that it will.
It's generally accepted that under the new scheme, your average graduate will have amassed £30,000 worth of debt at the tender age of 21. Now that frightens me.
It doesn't matter that they haven't got to pay before they start university - the fact of the matter is that they'll most likely walk out of said university £30k in debt; and while these students won't have to pay it back right away - they're going to have to pay it back sometime, right?
I remember when I was at university; one of my classmates came from a family who didn't believe in education. So much so, they actively tried to convince him not to go to university. Now, I'm not sure what their issue was with education; he said they felt it was a waste of time, and that perhaps they were frightened by the idea that he thought he was somehow 'better' than everyone else.
Much to their chagrin he elected to go to university anyway.
They offered him no support whatsoever; and I don't mean financial support; I mean emotional support. To all intents and purposes, they cut him off.
Now this was one very determined individual. But I wonder if even he would've put himself through it today. I'd love to think that he still would; but I'm really not so sure. How many others in his position today will see these fees as the final straw and just elect not to go? There are lots of jobs which are simply not open to you without a degree. How much potential will be wasted?
In recent years, we've seen university tuition go from being free, to costing £1000 per year, to costing £3290 per year - and now this - up to £9000 per year. What's next?
Has this government forgotten that a well-educated workforce benefits the whole of society, not just those who go to university?
Only time will tell how this will all play out. I, for one ,really hope that no-one who wants to go to university is put off by this latest hike in fees; and, sadly, it seems that hoping is all any of us can do right now.