Thoughts from the CEO

Universities face tuition fee levy for poorer students

Sean Coughlan has published an article on the BBC website this morning talking about Universities in England wanting to charge fees of 9,000 per year could have to spend 900 of that income on access for poorer students. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12665503 The Office for Fair Access (Offa) has published guidelines showing how much universities should spend on fee subsidies and outreach projects. It sets a sliding scale ranging from 15% to 30% of fee income above 6,000. Offa's director, Sir Martin Harris, says poorer students might feel they "cannot afford to go to university". This is a much needed step in the right direction. People from poorer backgrounds are weighing up the value and risk about sending their children to Universities. The spectre of a 40,000 plus loan is incomprehensible for many people as there is a real fear about the variables involved, will the current or future governments change interest rates, pass on the debt to parents, impact credit ratings, effect your ability to get on the housing ladder etc To put this into a real perspective, would you be willing to borrow the equivalent of the value of your house to send two people to University. This is the choice many working class families are faced with. Many working class families from places like the North East or S.Wales are weighing up the value and risk of University Education for their 2 or more children where they are faced with the potential of encouraging their 2 children to borrow the equivalent value of their house for a University education which carries the risk of 20% graduate unemployment (often much higher in these regions) and an average graduate salary, for the lucky ones, of circa 16,000. It does actually look like a mortgage to many people as students will have to borrow 2.5 times their annual income. The problem we have is that we have now engrainedt the University aspiration firmly in the DNA of this generation and families see no realistic or attractive alternatives for 16 and 18 year olds leaving schools.

Related Tags: educationjobsUniverity FeesBBC EducationSean Coughlan 

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