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University applicants are down this year, but should hiking tuition fees deter potential undergrads? Is that degree worth the money?

With schools being back in and freshers weeks away from embarking their university journey, it seems appropriate to look at the fluctuation of university applications, and more so their decline this year. What are the reasons behind this? Well without a doubt Brexit has shaken the confidence of those wishing to travel to this country for their further education from elsewhere in the EU, as EU applicant figures has decreased 7% from this time last year!

That figure, and the 5% drop for UK applicants, are reported by UCAS and are split into the decrease percentage per age range of applicant. The older age ranges are the ones with more notable figures, with 25 and overs dropping by 17%. This statistic reminded me that there are those out there who do not decide to jump straight into university at 18 or 19, and for those who do decide to go to university immediately or choose to do so later in life, the now £9,250 a year fee will surely seem much more real to them. After all, many will have already supported a home, and some a family, prior to making their university application, and therefore will probably not want a £27,750 debt for a degree unless it is integral to the life they have already began to build for themselves. They won’t have the ‘coming of age’ experience that almost justifies student debt for many undergraduates. I myself was subject to the £9,000 tuition fees just as they were introduced, and I would not change my decision to attend university – even if I was given the option to go back and do so. For myself, and I am sure many who are sat in the same student debt as I, I will always turn around and say that it was worth every penny. Saying that though, surely that’s what those who hike these fees are banking on?

I disagree with the notion of tuition fees in the first place. It raises the question of how one can be charged for seeking to further their education. The Scottish have it right. If you are Scottish, or and EU National, you can study at university level in Scotland for free. I think the EU part is a definite finger up at Westminster, but Scots studying free should definitely make us look at our university system. For the record – University of St Andrews is currently ranked 3rd in the UK, behind Oxford and Cambridge. So you explain to me the correlation between tuition fees and standard of education?

On the other side of this, however, is that I cannot stand and say I did not see where my fees were being spent. Granted many of my lectures were PowerPoint presentations, but my university library was phenomenal. It had every piece of text I ever needed, fast wifi for personal devices, an archive of extremely old material in the basement that was extremely well curated, and as a student of the university, I had 24 hour access to it. The last of that list is what saved me as a student, but on top of this, student support at uni was excellent. The staff were excellent and employment opportunities and projects seemed to be in abundance to those who sought them out.

For me personally, my life would not be at the stage it is now if not for university. I would not have had the same opportunities as I have had, jobs leading to other jobs etc, and I believe that university frames you to think a certain way. Hopefully one day tuition fees will be abolished, but until then please do not let it be the thing that stops you applying.

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