Those students who constantly bang on about university fees in the UK being £9,000 a year have now been silenced. No longer can they shout in demonstrations, protests and marches that the government is allowing universities to charge this amount, despite there being no tangible benefits to the majority of undergraduate students.
Instead, they must now complain that university fees are £9,250 a year.
This increase has been in the pipeline for quite some time, and it has to do with universities arguing that fees should rise in line with inflation. However this proposal was going to be discussed by MPs but has apparently been sneaked out on the government website.
This BBC article describes how opposition members have labelled the move as ‘shabby’ and ‘avoiding scrutiny.’
Now this small increase may not seem troubling but I want to point out two things. The first is the government has suggested that this increase is simply the first round of increases. It is as if they are getting university students used to the idea of fee increases until they perhaps become a yearly occurrence. It is a bit like your household bills, they offer you a great deal at the beginning and then through small annual increases, you find yourself paying substantially more within a couple years. Currently many would argue that the UK student loan system is amazing compared to other student loan systems across the world. I remember this was what we were told when I was doing my A-levels. Let us put aside for now, my opinion that debt is bad, no matter the terms and conditions. The other danger is that as fees increase, I fear the student loan system may struggled to cope with demand. There may come a day when it will break, and students will forced to turn to even greedier loan companies.
The other point is that I fail to see what universities have done to warrant such drastic increases in fees. Perhaps it has something to do with universities feeling as though now they have the cash, they can expand their buildings, which of course leads to a greater capacity for students, which leads to more money. This influx in money will not result in any difference to the vast majority of degrees and the quality of their teaching. Ask a student or even lecturer who has been at university for the past few years, and they will most likely tell you that they have not seen any personal effect of the increase in tuition fees. I certainly haven’t. This also has a lot to do with the reduction in Higher Education Funding Council’s contribution to universities. With the increase in fees, the government almost completely reduced the amount of money universities received per student. So whilst everyone else was better off, the student was left in the lurch. If the government wanted to behave more responsiblly and truly cared about education, they should have considered reducing university gradually and not simply cut off the HEFC grants.
The government claims that universities will have to prove they are providing excellent education in order to warrant further fee increases. That sounds like nonsense to me. A mere gimmick to appease the complaining hordes. Hopefully people will begin to realise that this path the government has set out is a dangerous one. The public didn’t seem to care when the fees were raised to £9000, most simply dismissed students concerns as entitled teenagers. Perhaps they will wake up and see that its time to put some grit on this slipper slope before we all sink into a US style system that cuts the feet off young adults before they have even had the chance to stand up.
Until Next Time
A Worried Student