By Elliot Morgan
It’s no secret that those wanting to progress to university as of this year will have to pay more money than those gone before. There has been a lot of noise made about the state of university funding, student finances and higher education repayments over the past few months, but how many of us know what the score really is?
One of the more popular buzzwords in the middle of this national revolutionary episode is “tuition fees”, according to coalition government policies and reviews, this will be replaced by a “graduate tax” as of 2012, a supposedly fairer, progressive system which will benefit students and ease the pressure on the current state of Britains economy. Still confused? Allow me to break it down…
In the red corner…..TUITION FEES
This is familiar to all of those who have been at university since loans were introduced in 1997, including students currently at university. The main features of which are;
- A capped amount of money of up to £3,290 a year, which goes straight from the Government to the University.
- Students recieve thousands of pounds in direct government funding for all courses
- Graduates currently pay back 9% of their salary after they begin earning over £15,000 per year. A higher rate of payment but for an overall lower amount of money. After 30 years the loan is wiped out if not repayed.
In the blue corner…..GRADUATE TAX
The new system being implemented through a review by Vince Cable (Business Secretary) and Lord Browne. The main features of which are;
- Tuition fee cap will rise to £6,000 a year, in some exceptional cases as much as £9,000 a year
- Direct funding will be wiped out for almost all courses & responsibility for payment will go directly to students.
- Maintenance Loans will still be provided but will slashed by almost half & Maintenance Grants will rise slightly for poorer students.
- Graduates earning over £21,000 a year will start paying back just 3% of the loans off their salary but you pay back more money, if you earn more money. After 30 years the loan is wiped out.
The main argument FOR these changes is to ensure, in the long term, those who wish to pursue higher education from financially less priviledged backgrounds, are able to do so, as technically, those who benefit the most from their degree, will have to pay more back.
This will work as Universities looking to charge the maximum fee of £9,000, will be obligated to recruit students who are entitled to the most amount of student loan. Under the new scheme, student loans will go into an independent fund, to be distributed equally between all Universities, rather than individual Universities benefitting from the loans it recieves directly from their own students, under the current set up.
Top institutions such as Cambridge and Oxford will almost certainly charge the maximum amount. So expect to see more of your “average joes” decending on the Bullingdon club in the coming years.
However, sceptics of this change claim that the Graduate Tax Scheme would be unfair on those who do better at university as they would start earning more earlier, therefore they will have to pay back more earlier and as a result would be charged more for their education, subsidising others.
A spokeswoman from UniversitiesUK, an organisation which represents the views of over 100 Universities nationwide, said “The new system has no up front fees and a significantly improved package of support for postgraduates, part time students and those from less privelidged backgrounds. Nobody liked tuition or top up fees being introduced, but as you can see, quality education and a degree pays for itself if the work is put in.”
“We are and have always been opposed to education budget cuts but the reality is that we need to deliver the high education standards that students demand in the current situation, nobody likes being told to take on more debt but this is the reality and we need to look forward, not behind.”
So, there it is. Like it or not, in the short-term, university education will cost more and students will need to think carefully about whether they are prepared to take onboard the responsibilty of paying back more than triple the amount of money that students pay now. Is it worth it? You decide. But for now, I think this poster sums it all up…..