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Graduating with a £30,000 debt! Is it worth it?


Published on 14 Oct 2010 17:00 : education : 0 comments : 453 views

Hi I'm Nikki, Marketing Executive at Genes Reunited.

Now, as we have all probably heard over the last few days, there seems to be a lot of controversy going on around the planned increases to University tuition fees. This story in particular hit a nerve.

I graduated in 2008 from university in Southampton and at the time was paying tuition fees of £1,200 per annum. I felt this was a reasonable amount at the time and didn't need to think twice about my application to study.

During my 4 year course the fees increased to £3,000 which I was luckily exempt from, as my studies had already commenced.

Now there are plans for more increases...

So will these increases affect the number of students applying for university? Who will suffer due to the increase and is Lord Browne doing the right thing?

Like most students, I come from a middle income family background. University studies and cost of living was down to me and I managed my own finances. I took out a student loan and also an extra loan to cover my yearly tuition fees. These, along with an overdraft and other expenses have left me with a £18.500 debt today for which I have only just started to repay. Not only this, but the amount is increasing due to interest rates.

I know I struggled financially when I was university. Tuition fees, cost of accommodation, general living costs and an overdraft that was spiralling out of control. I mean it just didn't end. I even got myself a part time job so I could afford the student basics such as bread, pasta and the odd bottle of Lambrini if I had spare change.

You work so hard to get your degree, whilst accumulating a number of loans to see you through your studies and then you leave university faced with the fierce competition to get your dream job, and then not to mention anxiously waiting to clear your student's debts.

Is getting a degree really worth all of this?

So let's work it out. If the alleged fees go up, students will be taking out tuition fee loans of around £6,000 per year for three years and about £3,750 in living costs. By the time they graduate they will owe around £30,000. Wow, now that makes me feel a little better about my £18,500 student debt.

I personally think the increase in fees is simply wrong and it is just going to put young graduates in serious debt and stress before they even begin their step on the career ladder. I know my £18.500 student debt feels like a burden even though the pressure of re-payment is not there.

So who will it affect?

I do not think the fees will affect high income families. The students coming from poorer families will be entitled to bursaries and could also have their loan repayment scrapped if they do not earn over 21k post graduate, so I do not think they necessarily need to worry too much. It will be the middle class families that will suffer the most and due to this, I feel less will apply and probably go straight into work from college.

What happened to the days when there were no fees in place 100 years ago and university was about what A level grades you achieved and not about who could afford it.

After World War II, an existence of free university education in many countries allowed more working-class the opportunity to get a degree. This resulted in an increase of education and enlarged middle classes.

In 1962 universities provided Mandatory maintenance grants for students to cover tuition fees and living costs. In the 1980's student grants increased from £380 to £1,430. It was in 1984 that the plans started to introduce parents to contribute to tuition fees.

By the 1990's - present we have seen tuition fees rise from £1000 to £3,000.

Should we not go back to the way it was years ago and make University a place where you can learn and achieve and not have to worry about graduating with a huge debt on your shoulders?

It does make you wonder whether university education today is worth getting into debt for. I know if these fees were put in place when i was making my university choices, i would definitely have thought twice. At the end of the day, it is me who will be spending the next 20 years or so paying it off.

I would be very interested to hear your comments on the matter.