Wednesday, 28 April 2010

What are you going to charge us?!

There's been one thing we haven't heard much of recently that's conspicuous by its absence, what's going to be happening to tuition fees? There's a review going on at the moment which is conveniently being released after the general election, robbing students of finding out what to expect from the various parties in relation to changes in top-up fees.

The Student's Union at Oxford has joined others today by asking why the recommendations being made to the review are being kept confidential. Surely as students we have a right to know what our particular university is suggesting in terms of changing fees? The Russell Group, which includes the more prestigious universities like Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, Imperial and Manchester have refused to release what they have sent into the review and a FOI request has been turned down on 'Public Interest' grounds. I can only assume this means that the Russell Group has recommended raising fees and doesn't want to get into a public argument with students just before an election when they might actually have some leverage.

Do they not realise how hard it is to get through university it is at the moment, with fees at this level, never mind how hard it would be if they were doubled. There was also talk of them charging interest on the student loans. The only reason that those loans are of any use is that students know they can be repaid once their degree is making them money, if they were costing them money in interest then university would be a much less appealing option. How can they expect students to pay interest on loans to the Student Loans Company which is surely the most disorganised, incompetent and ridiculous excuse for an organisation ever to be created? These reviews seem to assume you fall in one of two groups, from a family with low enough income to be eligible for grants and bursaries, or from one with enough money to pay their child through the whole of university. There are plenty of people in the middle, who don't get grants and can't have mum and dad pay for everything, free loans are the only way these people can get through.

I hope the report takes into account the fact that the UK is a small country, the only way we compete on the world stage is through high-tech industry. Without a constant stream of people going through high quality universities our economy would crumble. A little extra input from the government to help subsidise the experience and open university up to the masses would benefit them in the long run.

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