The dust has now well and truly settled on another intoxicating university Freshers’ Week where ingenuous young individuals indulge in a wide variety of activities to celebrate their new status as university students. However, when the hangovers wear off and new friendships strengthen, these new students face a daunting prospect of soaring tuition fees, which have been on a steady growth pattern since they were first introduced by the Labour government of Tony Blair in September 1998. When tuition fees were first enforced, an agreed amount of £1,000 was required to be paid for each student, however in 2014, tuition fees can now exceed £9,000, which for the majority of young individuals may seem distant from reality.
In addition to soaring tuition fees, new students living away from home are also consumed by the harsh reality of unreasonable accommodation fees that within certain situations can potentially result in an individual paying over £7,000 pounds just to keep a roof over their head. These extortionate accommodation costs may at times exceed certain students’ allocated maintenance loan, which part of a loan package, is paid in installments throughout an academic year.
Within recent years, a series of studies undertaken discovered that students studying at University College London were required to spend an irrational £350 per week whereas their peers at the University of Leicester spend a more modest £196 on average per week. It is slightly nonsensical that an average weekly living cost amounting to £196 for students appears cheap within this society and that our current government seems content with this.
In the years following the introduction of tuition fees, a constant barrage of encouragement was thrown towards young people that conveyed further education as a crucial element to any successful career. However, by conducting an analysis of private enterprise within student economics, a simple question arises that asks, ‘Is our education being deliberately vandalized by private interests?’
In recent years an extremely worrying trend of private companies taking control of student accommodation has become very prominent throughout the country with ruthless payment systems being imposed on students. If the introduction of these private companies continues, a moral connection with students could easily be lost, which may result in accommodation prices skyrocketing to serious proportions and effectively pricing some individuals out of education.
The cost of student accommodation is a particularly pressing issue in London as countless amounts of students studying throughout the city are charged extortionate fees by university halls of residence or private landlords. To emphasise the expense of student accommodation within London, ShoutoutUK conducted a short survey and discovered that certain university halls of residence charged individuals over £206 per week for a standard single room. This statistic may be all too real for students that live in London as many individuals currently receive an inadequate amount of money from loan installments, which can potentially result in students paying £1,000 more for accommodation than money obtained through their maintenance loans.
Upon reading information and opinions provided throughout this article, certain individuals may argue that free education would not currently be viable within this society for a number of reasons, with a prominent argument voicing concerns about the increasing number of university graduates. It is important to recognize how a recent study conducted by ONS discovered that almost 50 per cent of recent university graduates now work within roles that do not require degree level qualifications.
This statistic is evidently quite shocking, however throughout a number of notable European countries, free education is currently thriving with an excellent example being Germany where university courses have recently became entirely free after the Lower Saxony state abolished its tuition fee structure. It is widely known throughout the financial world that Germany’s economy is currently enjoying a prosperous growth spurt, which interestingly correlates with the abolishment of tuition fees throughout its 16 major states alongside a steady fall in unemployment rates. The reintroduction of free education in Germany cannot currently be considered as a heavily contributing factor towards its growing economy and declining unemployment rates but it definitely provides food for thought when our politicians discuss related issues within parliament.
However, there is serious doubt if the issue of unreasonable tuition fees will actually be taken seriously in Parliament, which can only suggest that the majority of leading politicians have never experienced financial worries related to education after a privileged upbringing. The lack of empathy that many young individuals believe exists between themselves and politicians in relation to soaring tuition and accommodation fees has been manifested into the ‘National Demo For Free Education’ protest, which planned for the 19th of November, will see thousands of students marching through London to show their support for an alternative higher education system.
If this protest achieves an excellent amount of support then hopefully one day higher education will be completely free and accessible to any individual who holds aspirations of a successful career. It would surely be morally right to protect the aspirations that this generation and future generations may possess, which could potentially produce endless possibilities for mankind. However, our current government conveys itself as being more than content with private financial interests taking priority over young individuals’ education.
This is simply an inadequate system that from its brainstorming stage was always intended to use university students for private profit, which is becoming ever more apparent with each increase of tuition and accommodation fees. The education system is not in crisis but sufficient change is required to avoid talented young individuals being priced out of education, which can only be achieved by guaranteeing that key issues become prominent within society and most importantly Parliament.