With university lecturers striking again, for 18 days in all this time, the issue surrounding university and the financial burden it places on students comes up for discussion once more.
For the last 12 years universities have been allowed to charge around £9000 per academic year. Prior to that, it was £3000 and before that, up until 1998, it was free of charge.
David Cameron’s Conservative government raised the amount universities could charge in 2011 with the Universities Minister at the time David Willetts describing it as a “progressive” reform.
He said that the fees “put universities’ finance on a sustainable footing with extra freedoms and less bureaucracy”. He claimed it would bring a “greater choice for students with a stronger focus on high quality teaching”.
However, from a student’s perspective, especially in light of the recent strikes and lack of reliable teaching, it’s hard to argue that students are receiving the “high quality teaching” that is worth as much as it is.
Even when you consider other factors, such as the use of facilities and equipment, those themselves at times are not of the highest quality and it’s still very hard to justify something that was once free costing this much.
Perhaps the degree itself carries financial worth. The idea is that once you collect your certificate the long term financial benefit will be in your favour as you have greater earning potential.
Amin Ali, a Kingston University alumni who recently graduated, said, “When I was at university I honestly felt like £9000 was way too much and to be honest I still do, but now that I have a degree and I am benefiting from it, it feels much more worth it.
“But, regardless of the quality of teaching and the experience, it still feels unfair to set us off into our professional lives with a huge debt riding on our backs”
If we account for £9000 across three years it totals to £27,000 and once maintenance loans and interest rates are factored in students could be looking to pay back over £50,000.
So is the long term financial benefit actually working in your favour? The way things are looking at the moment with high inflation and wage suppression, the answer is probably no.