Lucy Jayne Craigs

FUTURE FEES FAIL STUDENTS

This month saw Leeds Metropolitan University joining fellow universities; Essex, Cambridge, Surrey, Oxford, Imperial College, Durham, Exeter, Manchester, Warwick, Aston, Birmingham, Lancaster and University College London in announcing they will charge a maximum yearly tuition fee.

As a student at Leeds Met myself, I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to experience University at the original annual tuition fee of just £2000 in 2009. The value of a degree will increase dramatically as fewer young adults will be able to go to University; unable to pay the £8500-£9000 tuition fees.

The select few who can afford the extortionate fees can expect to pay anything over £50,000 for their degree in total, accounting for added living and accommodation costs. The rising of fees will create an elitist class divide; only the wealthy will have access to further education.

Universities across the UK are set to follow in trend; with Aston, Bath, Bath Spa, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Chester, Chichester, Edge Hill, East London, Hull, Keele, Kent, Lancaster, Leeds Leicester, Liverpool, Loughborough, Manchester, Manchester Met, Newcastle, Northumbria, Nottingham, Reading, Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam, Southampton, Teesside and York St John all planning to up their fee’s to the maximum £9000, its unlikely any University will keep their 2011 fees; with research showing most will need to charge a minimum of £6000 just to break even following funding cuts.

Lucy Jayne Craigs

Andrew Brown, 17, attends Thomas Moore 6th form in Blaydon, Newcastle; having stayed in education with the hope if going to University. His ambition, along with millions of other students, has come to an abrupt end with the announcement of the increased fee’s; “I’ve always had my heart set on going to University for both the education and experience but I’m from a lower class family, we would have struggled with the original fee’s but now they have increased, University is out of the question for me. I’ve been thinking of alternative ways to get a degree status; such as part time and working for a company who could put me through University, but these opportunities will become hard to get and company’s may stop offering them all together.”

The Governments plans could well back fire as they pay most existing students fee’s, which student then pay back after their University education has ended and they are earning over £21,000 a year. It is unlikely the Government will be able to pay the new fees on behalf of students and even if so, students will be paying back their debt the remainder of their adult working lives.

In a recent interview with the Guardian newspaper, the shadow universities minister, Gareth Thomas, said: "The government got wrong the number of universities that would charge the full £9,000; ministers were wrong that Offa could control fee levels”.

Over the Summer months, millions of undergraduate students will receive their A level results; though it may not be cause for celebration, as the majority will now decide not to further their education on to University level. It will be interesting to see the dramatic change in level of University applicants for 2012.

Lucy Jayne Craigs