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Degrees of Hardship for Students

Degrees of Hardship for Students

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Published by: franka4100 on Sep 23, 2013
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September 20, 2013 6:12 pm
Degrees of hardship for students
By Elaine Moore
University bars are in trouble. Student unions in Leeds,Edinburgh and Birmingham have all reported a dramatic fallin alcohol sales and other revenue. In Aberystwyth thesituation is so dire that the student union bar has closeddown. All agree on the reason: money worries. Now that England inparticular is one of the most expensive places in the world tostudy for a degree, students no longer have the means norinclination to socialise in bars.The way that higher education is funded in the UK haschanged completely within a generation, as costs shift fromthe state to the student – and the process isn’t finished yet.Plans for students to contribute towards the cost of theireducation first gained traction in the 1990s as applicationnumbers grew and universities complained of underfunding. When Labour came to power in 1997, it inherited a reportcommissioned by the Conservatives suggesting that studentscontribute about a quarter of the total cost. In spite of publicprotests and a backbench rebellion, means-tested tuition feesentered the statute book in 1998.Prices then began to rise. In 2004, top-up fees wereintroduced, increasing the annual charge from £1,125 to£3,000. Last year, the rules changed again, pushing upannual tuition fees in England to a maximum of £9,000,
following a review chaired by former BP chief executive LordBrowne.Each change has been deeply unpopular with certain groups.Top-up fees were passed in parliament with a margin of justfive votes – a narrower margin than the decision to go to warin Iraq. About 50,000 people are thought to have taken partin a 2010 protest against higher fees and the LiberalDemocrats’ broken pledge not to raise tuition fees led toleader Nick Clegg’sinfamous “I’m sorry” video, which wasthenparodied in a remixand has been viewed more than2.5m times.For students, thepolitical fightspale next to the raw numbers. On top of a loan to cover the annual £9,000 tuitionfees, many will take out a maintenance loan to help coverliving costs of £5,500 a year, or £7,675 in London. Add inoverdrafts and money from part-time work and the total billfor a degree could be £50,000 in three years.
UK universities 
The FT’s round-up of news from the sector 
 According to the National Union of Students, balancingloans and costs is proving tricky for many undergraduates. Itestimates that about 3 per cent of students have taken out anexpensive payday loan to meet costs. The University of Northampton has started a credit union on campus in aneffort to help students find more affordable loans. Wray 
Irwin, head of the university’s centre for employability, saidhe had found many students were getting into seriousfinancial trouble as they tried to budget.Owen Burek, editor-in-chief of financial advice websitesavethestudent.org, says that on average, students spend£763 a month – £300 more than by the maintenance loan.“We know they have cut back on non-essential costs and thatthis is something that’s a huge cause of stress at a time whenthey are trying to get a degree,” he says. “After the protestsagainst fees achieved nothing, there is a feeling that it’s aslippery slope and fees could just keep on rising.”Labour says that if it comes to power in 2015, it will reducethe fee cap to £6,000 a year, citing research showing that between 2010 and 2011 university applicationsfell by 9 percent in England– but continued to rise in Scotland, Walesand Northern Ireland, where university tuition is free orsubsidised.The government would like students to think of tuition feeloans as a sort of graduate tax, and says they shouldn’t putanyone off applying to university any more than a higher ratetax would put someone off a pay rise.That’s because under the “income-contingent” repaymentterms, borrowers do not need to start repaying loans untilthey earn at least £21,000, after which they pay 9 per cent of their income. Anything left after 30 years is cancelled.
Lloyds sell-off, university costs and manorial rights
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