Some Good News Concerning Tuition Fees
Teresa May has just announced a freeze on the level of student university fees, while also raising the threshold at which the student loan debt must be repaid once graduates are in employment.
University fees were planned go up from £9,250 to £9,500 per year for the 2018-19 period, but this increase has be cancelled. This news, which will surely be welcomed by both students and parents, was announced at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester last week.
The cap at which student loan repayments will have to be repaid will be raised from £21,000 to £25,000. However these concessions on repayment will probably only apply to those students who took the larger student loan options introduced in 2012; those who took smaller loans prior to this date may not be able to benefit from the changes.
Martin Lewis, founder of the website Money Saving Expert, has pointed out that the change will have a `long-term progressive benefit,` and also that `graduates won`t clear their loans in full before it`s wiped - by reducing what they repay each year, you reduce what they repay in total too.`
The policy is perhaps the Conservative`s attempt to appeal to the younger voter, who voted in vast majority for Labour in the past election. Of course this slight reduction will hardly be a winning enticement compared to Labour`s pledge to scrap tuition fees entirely.
Luke Pollard, the Labour MP for Plymouth, Devonport and Sutton expressed his thoughts concerning the reduction through an incisive tweet:
`So your choice is annual tuition fees of £9,250 with the Conservatives or annual tuition fees of £0 with Labour,`
Echoing this sentiment, the shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said the move was `a desperate attempt by the Tories to kick the issue into the long grass`.
Of course Labour has not been particularly forthcoming in explaining where they would get the funds from to support the total scrapping of tuition fees; and John Mcdonad`s admission that the voiding of any student debt is an `ambition` rather than a promise suggests the proposal is not even viable.
Though these announcements by the Prime Minister don`t amount to drastic changes, any attenuation of parlous financial plight faced by the youth today is to be welcomed. The average student debt for those leaving university is now more than 50,000 - freezing these fees (for a year at least) can only be a good thing.
There is a school of thought that says students take their studies more seriously when they (or their parents) are paying for them. This may be a rather cynical attitude - better to believe that for the sake of personal enlightenment, and the progression of their career, everyone puts their full effort into academic pursuits. University can be a rather `distracting` place though. My own experience certainly attests to that: revelry and inebriation certainly fought for centre stage with my classes. Had I truly appreciated the financial cost of my university course I may well have knuckled down more.
A Disquieting thought is that there will be many students who simply cannot afford to go to university. The spectre of debt may be too much to bear, and they might be dissuaded from three years of no income and mounting costs, when they could immediately look for a job after leaving school. I have always placed great value in the power of further education (despite the revelry and inebriation of my student days), and believe that university is the arena where you really get to the heart of whatever subject you choose to study. It would be a great shame if gifted academics were prevented from pursuing their subject because of the high cost. That these fees are to be frozen can only be a good thing - though it would be gratifying to be informed that they won`t rise for three years at the minimum, enabling at least one year group to complete a degree at this figure. Raising the repayment threshold from £21,000 to £25,000 is also a good news. With the exorbitant housing costs, and the uncertainty over Brexit, today`s youth need all the breaks they can get.;