I’m Still Not Convinced About Tuition Fees

Yesterday, UCAS published their report on the demand for Higher Education at undergraduate level and on a full-time capacity in 2013. There are many things to welcome in this report. First, I think that it is very positive that more people from BME backgrounds have applied to study in a Higher Education setting. In fact, since 2006, this report shows that there has been a 70% proportional increase of BME applications. This is fantastic news.

It is also positive to see that more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are applying to go to university and at record levels than ever before. I welcome the closing the gap between the richest and the poorest students. Although, I am unhappy to see the reverse effect for young white students, as the report indicates that there has been a drop in applications made by young white people. And although there are slight improvements, I am still unhappy to see the lowest application rates coming from the North East of England.

So look, lets cut to the chase. I believe that if you can’t get the basics right, then everything else will constantly be out of balance no matter how much you fiddle with things. As the data will change from time to time; sometimes benefiting one political party and discrediting others, I feel that I have to speak up for students on this issue being one myself.

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My Annual Statement from The Student Loans Company Limited

This is the reality. This is the letter that I opened up only a few weeks ago to see. This is for three years of my life. I am 31 years old and I am nearly £31k in debt with only a few ideas to show for it. As much as the data is painted in a way to show improvements to our education system, and as I have highlighted above, there are positive steps being made to make Higher Education more inclusive so that your average Joe Bloggs can go along and learn something worthwhile, it still is not good enough in my books as our young people are finding themselves in debt before they have even got a job and this is not only wrong but it is unfair.

I went into a state of dark depression when the reality of this debt had eventually dawned on me. When I signed up, I was in a poor place, lacking opportunity, and I didn’t care about terms and conditions. To be honest, I didn’t really understand much of how University funding worked as at College we had help filling in our UCAS forms and so forth. At the time, I just wanted to get out of the polluted pond that I was in having a real thirst for knowledge. I climbed out only to find myself in a bigger, more polluted and more exploited pond than before. It’s so easy to paint me out to fit data that generalizes all as the same but when you are dealing with this in the subjective, when it is you opening your mail and reading how much you owe, when it is your family that have to help pick up the pieces, then no matter how you paint the data it will never taste nice to an individual that knows better.

We really need to take our young people out of debt as well as mature students. If they grow up in debt and think that it is right to be in debt, then how will this country ever change? Our politicians land this country in debt, poor people are encouraged to take out loans for goods only to find themselves paying ridiculous interest fees. It’s all debt, debt, debt. We can never be a country free from debt if we do not show our youngsters the right ways.

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I am a Liberal Democrat and I highly respect the views of my peers about their views on how education is funded. However, I stand firmly onside with free education. Albeit, I think we all can accept that we simply cannot expect education to fund itself anymore; teachers cost money and so do resources and materials. However, it is not so much what you do but how you do it that counts.

A Retrospective Tax would remove the burden of debt on our youngsters; rather than being owned by education, they would become contributors to education. Every person to go to University will have a stake in the educational system. It is time that we got back to basics and did things the right way, and a Retrospective Tax would be the fairest way to do it.

Why should we see fees go up to £9k a year and then the government sell off the loans book for equivalent to £3k a year and then an investor gets to make a nice sum of profit off the backs of students? It is not only unethical but it is outrageous! It’s like the deal was set all along. We need a fairer way to fund education and I believe that putting students at the heart of education can only make education stronger. I believe that having a Retrospective Tax would remove the burden of debt and liberate an entire generation into a stronger economy and a fairer society.

As always I’m happy to hear your views.

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Posted on July 24, 2013, in Speaking Out. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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