Getting rid of fees won't make a fair deal for students, but neither will keeping them as they areby Lucy Webster / August 11, 2015 / Leave a comment
With my third year of university on the horizon, I have spent two years engaged in the debate over student fees, which in recent weeks has returned to the mainstream, with the release of a new report on the government’s approach, and two Labour leadership candidates pledging free tuition at the point of delivery. I take a middle view, somewhere between those calling for free education and the current government’s elitist higher education policy.
Tertiary education should not be free. Unlike healthcare or basic education, it is a privilege and generates great rewards. But it should be fair, which means ensuring value for money and making it easier for those from disadvantaged backgrounds to afford. According to a new report from the Independent Commission on Fees, set up in 2012 to evaluate the impact of higher university tuition fees, this is far from the case. While some of the problems expected when the new fees were introduced have been avoided or mitigated, the government and the industry still have a lot to do.
Going to university weighs on someone’s mind from before they go until decades after they have graduated. Some 78 per cent of 16-18-year-olds are “very” or “fairly” concerned about the cost of living as a student, the commission found. Some 68 per cent are concerned about high tuition fees and 58 per cent are worried about having to repay student loans after their studies have finished.