Tuition Fees: The Next Generation

Posted on May 25, 2011

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There might only be an academic between them, but September 2012 will see a new generation of students from its predecessors. This time students will have to pay £9000 for the privilege of a university education.

Daniel Webb, 18, finished his A-levels last year at Yarm School, an independent school on Teesside. After a gap year, he will study History at Manchester University this September.

Daniel will have to pay £3000 for three years, then £9000 if he wants to do further studies afterwards. But any friends going in subsequent years will have to find £9000 each year. “It wouldn’t change my decision to go to uni – I was always going to go. But it’ll definitely be a big burden to pay off,” Daniel says. “From people I’ve spoken to, if they’d already decided to go to uni then I don’t know anyone who’s not going to now”.

Jacob Doyle, 16, also privately educated, is taking his AS-levels at Birkdale School, Sheffield. Like Daniel, he’s already planned ahead, even though he will pay £9000. “Once I’ve got my A-levels, hopefully with the right grades, I’ll go to one of the top unis to study international business.”

“I went to private school and the cost isn’t that different to tuition fees really. I’m very fortunate, but obviously some people aren’t in the same position as me”.

“In terms of equal opportunities, tuition fees definitely hinder people. But some people are in a better financial situation, and sometimes that’s the way it goes”.

Maura Stanley, Deputy Head of Sixth Form at Stokesley School, another comprehensive in North Yorkshire, has noticed a change in the way students are approaching university. “Certainly some students aren’t going now because of the fees”, she says. “Still I would say 95% of our students will go on to uni”.

There has already been more of a move to in-job training and apprenticeships over degrees in areas like Accountancy, she says. “Some courses just won’t be viable anymore because they’ll incur such a big debt. I really think some courses will close because of it, maybe even some of the smaller colleges and polytechnics.” Mrs Stanley believes that courses like Media, with already low job prospects, will suffer.

Joel Burgess, 17, is taking his GCSEs at Northallerton College, North Yorkshire. He has decided not to go to university because of the fees. “They put me off, yes. It’s too expensive now. Some of my friends that were going have decided to look for work instead as well.” Joel wanted to try for the police, but they have now stopped recruiting due to a lack of job places.

Some students will go to university; others face an uncertain job market. But is it right to have to choose?

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Posted in: Politics