As a student, I’ll admit there are many days when I resent paying £9,000 for an education that was a heck of a lot cheaper for the people educating me. However, considering a career in science is something I’ve always wanted to pursue, I’ve accepted that my education apparently needs to be bought – although I would’ve appreciated some sort of discount.
This apparently is what may be being offered to future students – as it has recently been announced that reducing some fees to £6,500 is under ‘serious consideration’. Sounds too good to be true? Almost definitely. Like everything in life, this reduction in fees comes with a catch. This is only being considered for those studying a humanities degree; for those studying science, well they’d have to make up the difference by being charged £13,000 a year.
Now, the idea behind this may seem straightforward – it costs less to teach humanities students and they’re likely to earn less than their science counterparts, but is this all really fair? Or smart?
No. It’s not.
The average nurse working for the NHS earns around £30K – according to the current thresholds it would take the average nurse 118 years to pay all of their loan back (with minimum maintenance grant) without interest.
If I had been given the option to reduce my fees by half by choosing to study History rather than Biomed, you can bet your sweet ass my UCAS applications would have looked a lot different – and I can say that that would have been the case for a lot of other people too.
Making this change would create a deficit in science students, thus reducing our numbers of doctors, nurses, engineers and everything in between. Furthermore, there would be higher numbers of applicants for humanity-based subjects making them more competitive and the likelihood would be that fewer people would end up attending university.
I’m not saying that humanities students should be paying more – I’m saying we all should be paying less. Although having a degree doesn’t seem to be as grandiose as it once did, having one is still important to those who want one. Forcing someone to pay more to study something they are passionate about seems warped to me.
I’ll leave you with the word of Bernie Sanders to summarise: ‘Education should be a right, not a privilege’.
Image: Cory Doctorow