Higher education in the United Kingdom is highly subsidized by taxes and various financial aid programs. Further, it has some of the best standards the world over. However, tuition fees have been in the rise the world over. Lately, there has been a lot of debate as to whether student fees should be increased. This is after the government proposed an increase in university education fees from £ 3000 to £ 9000 an year and a slash in the university funding. There were proposals that students from poor backgrounds shall get grants while others shall finance their education through banks. This shall be then repaid after the students finish school and start working. This however presents a myriad of problems to the students. It is therefore imperative to explore ways as to which possible alternative courses of action that can be taken to reduce this financial burden faced by students.
First, the government has proposed that over-subscribed and popular universities should charge higher for their services while institutions that are struggling should charge les so as to encourage more people to apply. However, research has shown that the current funding crisis is not sufficiently sustainable to support these lower-end institutions. Therefore, the incentive shall not only be impossible but it shall fail leading to the closure of this institutions. This shall lead to a situation whereby both popular and lower-end institutions shall have insufficient students due to the costs associated with schooling. Further, most students shall drop-out due to the inability to pay fees leading to accumulation of debts up to a level that they can no longer be sustained in schools.
Secondly, only the rich shall be able to obtain education. Education shall be out of reach for most middle class citizens and the poor. This will trigger a long term situation whereby the economic disparities between the rich and the worker shall increase even further. This is since education lays the basics for future self-sustenance. Ironically, some economists have identified the long-term effect on savings and investments which the government is trying to save today. Minimal investment in the youth today shall lead to a situation whereby little professional skills are gained. They shall then earn less in future. Consequently, savings will decline which has a direct impact on the investments. This therefore leads to lower national productivity and the onset of a vicious cycle. Evidence in support of this theory is recent study conducted by UCAS who have already observed a shortfall in 12,000 applications in the United Kingdom owing to the ongoing speculation. The government has phrased the counter-argument that working class families shall still pay a similar amount due to large salary increase of up to an average of £30,000 and a maintenance grant of an average amount of £2,002 for any persons earning below £30,000.Working class students are expected to pay not more than £1,100 per year and not less than £300 for their university education (1).This is however not the case for this is a comparative ratio analysis and excludes students from poor families who largely depend on maintenance grants for their upkeep rather than education
Thirdly, children from rich families shall avoid funding their children so as to take advantage of grants and loans availed to other students. This shall lead to the pile-up of debts to a situation whereby these schemes shall not be sustainable at which point the government shall be forced to turn over the whole cost over to the students.
Fourthly, many students shall be forced to juggle almost full-time jobs so as to meet tuition costs and their personal bills. Consequently, less time shall be spent studying. This will in the end compromise educational standards in the country which are one of the best the world over.
Finally, all income benefits accruing to students after graduating from university might be overridden by debts accrued during university. The Labor Ministry has claimed that an increases are in university education fees is inevitable as a means of alternative funding to the institutions so as to raise an extra £1.4 billion. The ministry further claimed that the higher incomes earned by graduates made repayment possible. The ministry estimated that these graduates could earn an average of £400,000 more than non-graduates in a life-time. However, independent surveys show that a modest £160,000 shall be earned. (2) However, the debts accrued by these students shall override these benefits. Therefore, many students might opt for a cheaper college education rather than university education. After all, why sped so much to earn less?
There are a number of measures that can be taken to avert these financial and emotional burden that students might be forced to bear. First, students may transfer credits. They shall be required to take classes at a local community college then later on transfer them to the higher institution. Before attempting this, students must however check with that higher institution whether they can actually transfer. Secondly, students can take College Level Examination Program commonly referred to as CLEP. This demonstrates a student’s proficiency in certain units therefore bypassing the need of having these students redo them at the institution. This shall save time and finances since the exams cost far much less in comparison to the tuition fees for these courses. Thirdly, students can take up federal work-study programs. Most students scoff at this since they feel that they do not pay enough. However, in the face of escalating university fees, it is crucial that these earnings are made and tied to their financial aid package. These jobs are easier to do than taking up part-time jobs elsewhere since they are in a student’s area of study. Finally, students can register in organizations such as the equivalent of the United Kingdoms’ AmeriCorps. Students can easily earn monetary rewards or sponsorship benefits which they could use to go to college. This shall benefit both society and the students for they shall conduct voluntary service for a year and afterwards get to achieve their life-time dreams.
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