According to Theresa May, ‘we now have one of the most expensive university systems in the world’, so, what’s going to be done about it all?
May has revealed this week that a major shake-up and review of the education system in Britain is much needed, calling the current set up rather out dated and lacking in the original outcomes which the conservative party wanted to get out of raising the fees in the first place.
May is also, apparently, concerned that the poorest students of society are now facing staggeringly high bills, whilst some students are being put off going to university altogether due to the worry of money.
In classic conservative style, of course, little has actually been promised, there is simply going to be a review.
May will ‘look into’ fees, mainly examining how financially lacking students can make it through their university experience without feeling the pressure of mounting fees.
For a party who completely scrapped maintenance grants for poor students back in 2016, replacing them instead with loans which will have to be paid back, it is little wonder that many students are now struggling through their university experience in the wake of conservative power.
Fees now stand at a record high of £9,250 per year, with nearly all universities choosing to charge the highest amount that they can, whilst grants are virtually non-existent, student depression and suicide are at an all-time high and maintenance loans barely cover the half of it.
Yet in the past seven years since fees were tripled, and in the past two since grants were scrapped, the Conservative party have not really been that interested in a review, which begs the question, why now?
Well, last year during the general election, the Labour party received a tremendous and rather shocking level of the ‘youth vote’, a proportion of the voting register which always struggles to grow each election, and this was mainly down to the fact that Labour promised to scrap tuition fees completely.
The Conservatives have recently noticed that their youth vote is dwindling, with fees soaring and grants scrapped, so, in a bid to win back the youth, it seems that Theresa May is finally going to have a little look into our universities.
According to David Lord Willets, the current system allows students to only start paying back their loans when they are earning an adequate amount annually, meaning that a ‘graduate only pays for their degree when they are benefiting from higher earnings‘, so to speak, the more you earn, the less you will notice the payments.
The Conservatives also champion this system as it encourages people to attend university and to aim for the top jobs, in Tory theory, fees should not put people off going to university.
However, for mature students struggling to get loans, the fees are terrifying, whilst for poorer students, the idea of that level of debt and a lacking maintenance fee can be more than a little discouraging.
According to May, she wants a country where going to university is not determined by your economic back ground, she also wants a major review of the arts and humanities courses, suggesting a reduction in fees.
This approach would consist of ‘variable fees’, a system put in place by New Zealand, where courses like medicine and law have the highest fee band, a decision based on the assumption that people taking humanities courses will surely not be able to earn as much as lawyers and doctors.
There is no evidence to support the fact that universities will be re-endorsed by the money that they will lose through the cutting of fees, yet, with all universities choosing to charge the highest fees, could there be an argument here that they are taking far too much than they actually need in the first place?
How will students be affected? Will some welcome the cuts? Or will some feel that their universities are being underfunded? Will there be riots?
Finally, how will admissions be tackled at universities, if fees are reduced, there will surely be more applications and stiffer competition, how will this all affect university life?
It clearly appears that there is plenty to think about when looking into fees, with the current education system coming under a large amount of criticism.
The Conservatives have always out ruled the idea of completely scrapping fees, yet maybe a re-introduction of grants could boost morale and help the current system?
There has also been a suggestion of reducing fees to £6000, another step to ease tensions and edit the system?
Yet, according to the Shadow Education Secretary, reform is not enough, the system needs to be scrapped and built back up again; ‘We don’t need a review of a broken system; we need an entire restructure of the education sector. It’s time the Tories stopped tinkering around the edges of an unsustainable funding model and instead support students now’.
The Shadow Education Secretary also went on to comment that the truth of the matter is that the Tories cannot keep up with the radical suggestions of the labour party to scrap fees, a promise which has gained considerable excitement in the youth vote.
If all these suggestions are a little mind boggling, don’t worry, the change up will not happen until 2019, and even then, maybe the alterations will be rather small and insignificant.
Fees are still high, grants still do not exist and many students and MP’s are calling for change.
So, what do you think? Are you happy with the current system, or do you want change too?