Opinion

Look beyond the headlines in the debate over tuition fees

By Simon Clare

In last week’s District Post, Millais student Tara Rawson wrote passionately about her campaign to reduce university tuition fees. I have a great deal of sympathy for her concerns but it made me rather sad to see that potential university students are still not hearing the truth about tuition fees.

My daughter is aiming to start university in a few years and I have made a deliberate effort to reassure her that she has nothing to fear from the costs involved. Her choice of degree will be influenced solely by her academic preferences, not financial worries.

Frightening our children about fees is not only unnecessary but potentially damaging to them too. Although £9000 a year sounds scary on its own, the issue is a little more complicated than any solitary figure. Here are some important details: No tuition fees have to be paid up front; the repayments are the same for loans of all values; the less a graduate earns, the less they pay back; many people will pay less in repayments than today’s graduates do.

I do not agree that this system unfairly favours rich families. Whatever their background, students will start university by paying no fees. After graduation they do not start paying the loan back until they earn over £21,000 and then they start repayments that are lower than what students currently pay – rich or poor. When it comes to the affordability of the tuition fees, this system does not discriminate against students from poorer families.

The more of the details I read, the less relevant the £9000 figure becomes. Parents have to look beyond the headlines and the slogans or risk scaring their kids away from the benefits of a university education.

Such an important issue deserves serious consideration, in possession of all the facts. To base our opinions on only a tiny part of the story is to allow ourselves to be manipulated by those who write the headlines.

Whether tuition fees are the best mechanism for the funding of university education is a matter for further discussion but let us base that discussion on reality. We must protect our children from being influenced by those who would have them base important life decisions on only a selected fragment of the truth.

I would urge anyone interested in tuition fees to look at
moneysavingexpert.com where the figures are examined clearly and fairly.

@faithlesseye

One comment on “Look beyond the headlines in the debate over tuition fees

  1. The fees should be scaled to encourage those choosing subjects we actually need and dissuade the current culture that everyone should go to university regardless. So, big discounts for useful things like science & engineering, and massive penalties for anyone choosing media studies, P.E., dancing, pop music etc.

    Student need to think carefully about whether they actually stand a chance of getting a job with course they choose . How many people waste time and money completing a degree only to end up working in a completely unrelated field afterwards?

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