Few of you will have missed this morning’s headlines about yesterday’s violent student protests in London. Taking to the streets is not something that comes naturally to British people – unlike the French, who view student protests almost as a right of passage. So, having 50,000 of them marching in London shows the level of discontent over the government’s recent decision to increase tuition fees.
Part of me feels right behind the students for voicing their concerns, but I really wish they hadn’t descended to such shows of violence in the process. They are entirely justified to protest, but the behaviour we’ve been seeing on our screens since last night devalues their argument. I guess I am also bothered because the whole violence in the streets thing is so “un-British”.
I keep a very close eye on what’s going on in the world of higher education, and recently totted up what a typical 3-year degree is likely to cost students in England and Wales… The figures are staggering!
At present, the average cost of a 3-year degree is £33,000. This cost is made up of:
- Accommodation - around £2,580 per year (although this tends to be much higher in London)
- Tuition Fees - £3,075 per year
- Food/Travel/Books/Clothing/Computer Equipment etc - £5,330 per year
Which means that currently, tuition fees account for just under 30% of the total costs. In 2012, when the fees go to £6,000 (or up to £9,000 for some universities), the overall cost of a 3-year degree could be anywhere between £42,000 and £51,000. That's more than the price of the first house I bought 15 years ago! No wonder students are protesting. This means that fees will represent anywhere between 43% and 53% of the cost of a degree.
If I were a student today, I would be in the streets with them. The worse thing in all of this is that students are not even guaranteed to get a job at the end of it. The current economic situation has really hit graduates hard (check out these stories for more on this: Graduates look overseas as jobs dry up, Graduates warned of record 70 applicants for every job).
Most students are reasonable, pragmatic people who understand the value of education, and I am sure that they wouldn't feel so strongly about this increase if they were almost guaranteed a well paid job at the end of it. This is something which comes up time and time again with the students we talk to. Our long-term courses cost between £10,000 and £6,500, depending on whether you chose to study in our classrooms or online. Most students think it is a sizeable amount of money. But the minute we explain that we actively help them find a job and that 85% of escapees get a job in the industry within a year, then they instantly see the value of what we do.
Drop me a line and let me know what you think.
Note - Statistics quoted here came from the following sources:
Fair Investment: Average cost of £33,000 for a degree makes student debt soar
Money UK: Cost of taking degree 'rises 300%
The Guardian: Double economics: the cost of a university education
The BBC: Q&A: Student fees