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  • Writer's pictureAmy Carter

Is Higher Education value for money?

The more people that are educated, the better chance we have at achieving equality within our society. Higher education can lead to job security, financial stability, and more life skills. So, why does it cost so much?

An average higher education student will leave University in a soaring £27,750 worth of debt from tuition fees alone. With this figure being so extortionate, we have to ask the question of, is higher education worth it?

Going to University is a natural progression in education for the majority of 18-year-olds, they are all appointed with tuition fees and a maintenance loan for each year of their studies. The amount they get awarded for their maintenance loan is fully dependent on their parent's financial status or personal situation.

Each University is different. Different locations, teaching methods, courses, and opportunities. There is not a 'one shoe fits all' in higher education, so why does this not apply to tuition fees?

The amount of debt that students have to sustain in order to gain a degree is increasing each year. Students who began their higher education studies in 2021, already have over £45,000 worth of debt to repay all together.

With student debt prices on the rise, the education, facilities, and opportunities students receive must directly reflect the price they have paid to get onto their chosen course.

Those who graduated in 2020 took out an average of £45,060 in loans, according to a report from the Higher Education Policy Institute which warns that graduates feel their debt is “draining and causing them an increase of anxiety, pressure, worry, and dread”.

Claire Callender, professor of higher education at UCL recently spoke to The Guardian and said: “It is essential we listen to graduates to develop evidence-based, sustainable, and fair higher education funding policies in the future.

Claire Callender, professor of higher education at UCL.

"Why should the loans of even the poorest post-2012 students accrue such high-interest rates while they are studying and before they reap any benefits from their higher education?

Why burden students psychologically and materially with enormous debts when most will never fully repay them?"

This issue has been circling both the media and government for years however, no change has been made. In April 2021, a petition was created to reduce tuition fees from £9,250 to £3,000 per year. The petition accumulated just over 580,000 signatures but despite the efforts from desperate students, the government responded with the following statement:

"Tuition fee levels must represent value for money and ensure that universities are properly funded. The government is not considering a reduction in maximum fee levels to £3,000."

Evidently, students are frustrated and do not believe that the current tuition fees they pay reflect the level of teaching, facilities, or opportunities they receive.

Martin Philpot, a current first-year Teesside University student said the following;

Martin Philpot, first-year Teesside University Student.

"I believe that the tuition fees should be reduced as the standard of teaching and detail on my course so far is to the same standard as my previous college course.

"I am only in University for 9.5 hours the majority of weeks, and in this time we have only been able to access a minimal number of facilities and equipment that would be used in the professional world outside of the University.

"On our days off, we have not been provided with any placements or work experience opportunities to complete meaning that our days off aren’t helping us gain knowledge and understanding of the professional world.

"Personally I believe that this is limiting my chances of employment in the long run and obtaining employment after my studies is the main reason for me attending University."

According to a study conducted by Statista, 63% of people aged between 18 and 24 support a proposal to reduce the University Tuition fee from £9,000 to £6,000.

Interestingly, 70% of people aged 60 and over also supported the proposed reduction in fees, which highlights the need for a change as individuals from this age bracket are not directly affected by tuition fee prices.

The UK is the fifth most expensive study destination in the world. According to a 2018 article by the Independent, research showed that half of the students considered studying abroad due to ‘extortionate’ tuition fees in the UK.

The study, which included 750 students all aged 16 or over, discovered that seven in ten of the participants consider the cost of higher education in the UK to be ‘too high’, whilst three in five also expressed fears concerning the possible rise in fees due to Brexit.

Beverley Bowden, the Head of Finance, Performance, and Marketing at Teesside University agrees that tuition fee prices should be reduced;

On the flip side, a survey of almost 6,000 students conducted by the Guardians 'Office for Students' (OfS) stated that 54% of students thought their overall investment in higher education was good value for money, with quality of teaching, learning resources, and feedback the key factors in assessing this.

Xihui Chen, Senior Lecturer in Accounting and Finance at Teesside University believes students do get their value for money;

Xihui Chen, Senior Lecturer in Accounting and Finance at Teesside University.

"I believe that the £9,250 per year tuition fee is a fair price for the quality of education students receive especially when you compare it to the amount that international students pay.

"I also think the current repayment system of student loans is feasible as it gives students an incentive to get a great graduate job or go into a well-paid career.

"However with that being said, I do also think that some students from poorer backgrounds should receive a reduced or free tuition fee.

This allows all individuals to better their learning and gives everyone equal opportunities in the working world"

The current student finance system has obvious flaws and complaints but, what are the alternatives?

One system that has been explored is where higher education is free, however, financed through the tax all British citizens pay similarly to how we fund the NHS.

This would create equality for all students and allow more people to gain a degree in their desired subject which would ultimately create a more educated population.

With all that being said, it is evident that the current finance system for higher education tuition fees needs to be changed.

What do you think?

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