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More thoughts from staff and students on the Browne review

October 14, 2010

Yesterday the blog here received its highest traffic for over half a year, as a result of the coverage of the Browne recommendations. Today we publish more reflections received from staff and students, and welcome more.

-> I’ve never seen the VC more out of touch with student sentiment. The LUU representative trounced him with simple truth.


-> I wonder if it’s worth pointing out that this ‘debt’ referred to only applies to tuition fees! What about maintenance loans?!

So with 5 years of uni (4 yr degree and PGCE) I will leave uni with £30,000 of debt NOW (tuition fees AND maintenance loans). They seem to be skimming over the fact that many students get maintenance loans and therefore this estimation of £30,000 of debt after the increase is WELL off the mark! So they say ‘we’ll give you a bigger maintenance loan to help you out’ but the key word in that is LOAN.

If we take into account an increase in tuition fees (assuming it is £7,000 pa) plus maintenance grants (on average £4,000 pa) most students will be lucky to escape a three-year degree with anything less than £32,000. If they do a 4 year degree like me (which is much more common than most people assume), add another £11,000 into the mix, and god help them if they want to do a PGCE!

The next question to ask is – what if I want to do an MA? MY PGCE leaves me with the equivalent of half an MA – should I want to complete that, will I even be able to afford it?! It’s a serious consideration given that my immediate graduate prospects should exceed the new threshold for paying back the government for their ‘kind’ loan!

I feel like I’ve been screwed over left right and centre by the government – first year for tuition fees, reduction in training bursaries for PGCE subject and now this?!

We’re reverting back to a notion that education is a privilege – pricing out the lower classes and penalising graduates of middle and upper classes. The government says that as teachers we should provide education for all and an education that caters for the needs of the individual; perhaps it should practise what it preaches!

As a Russell Group university and therefore a leader in education, Leeds should remember that it has a duty to promote, not prevent education.

Nicola L Bain

-> I think the current student loan system encourages young people to be blasé about getting into debt from an early age – most people leave university with around £20,000 debt (since top-up fees) and this is considered perfectly normal. The idea that students could be paying even more for their education, and that this payment would be in the form of even more debt is a terrifying thought. How can we justify upholding a society that gives out the idea that university is for everyone, yet most people may have to get into something like £40,000 worth of debt to go? The student loans company have already scrapped their 0% interest rate, so in what way is this debt actually manageable for the average young person? How is the next generation going to be able to start businesses or save money for the future with such a massive hole in their finances? And what about postgraduate study? Clearly these things will become the privilege of the rich.

It would be naive to think that cuts can be avoided altogether, but I think the graduate tax would be a good way of paying for education without perpetuating the normalization of debt culture. I also think it could be a fairer way of judging students’ ability to pay, as assessing their parents’ income is often flawed – obviously most students have no or very little income when they start university and parent involvement varies from person to person – so taxing graduates would be a way of judging the individual’s financial situation instead of estimating it based on their parents’.

The fact that this and other alternative ideas to removing the cap haven’t been properly explored show that the government is not remotely committed to education for all.

Nadya de Villiers

-> I can’t believe the VC was pleading poverty on national television when he is spending £ 350 million on a building program that no one else in the university wants.


One Comment leave one →
  1. October 14, 2010 6:28 PM

    I can’t understand how these plans are even being considered. Alot of jobs including my marketing jobs in Leeds for a well known marketing recruitment agency only pays an average wage. If these fees go through, it will take me so many years to pay off my debt that I don’t think I would have bothered to go to university in the first place.

    These are sad times for education and developing a career.

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