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Has The Tuition Fee Increase Regime Affected Students?


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After tuition fees in the United Kingdom were increased to up to £9,000, the number of university applicants decreased by 50,000 in 2012. With the skyrocketing of the price of the tuition that students and their families need to pay every year, market forces around higher education have responded to the “need” and actually influence the academic sector.

The government of the UK is offering a built-in option of getting the education through loans. The private sector is taking a cue. A few biggest corporations have started offering to pay students’ tuition fees in exchange for work. University aspirants can explore them as options on how to get their education. Thus, the opportunities to enter higher education seem to expand for young people. However, this group of options actually limit the opportunities. The corporate benefactors are the ones to choose what courses their beneficiaries will take. There is no evil to this. This is just plain sound business principle. Investors should get returns. Economics: value for money.

To Go or Not To Go

Despite tuition fees tripling, many young people are still determined to pursue higher education. Most of them still believe that it is one best way to get ahead in life. For them, the light at the end of the tunnel is the hope of landing good paying jobs. Many of them say that paying their tuition fee loans in the future will not be as bad as it sounds because they only need to start doing do when they begin earning at least £21,000 annually. Add to this, they will do so on a payroll deduction arrangement with minimal instalment payments. For them, it is not that bad after all. Still, many others decided not to go to university because of the burden that student debt brings.

Options for the Disadvantaged

One of the considerations accounted for in the increase of the tuition fees is to facilitate competition in the price of higher education. The maximum is pegged at £9,000 but institutions that plan to increase their own to more than £6,000 will need to secure the “license” to do so. Such permit will require the school to enter into an agreement with the government to meet a minimum percentage in the enrolment of students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. Ministers believed that only the most prestigious and selective universities will actually want to secure the permit but it turned out that all schools applied for it and even are able to agree with terms with the government.

However, true to the purpose of mitigating the detrimental effects of very high tuition fees, the agreements between the government and each university turned in more assistance for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. There are cases in which less fortunate applicants at the University of Oxford will be paying as low as £3,500 in their first year and £6,000 in their second and last years. The government also releases funds to help students in arrangements like this fully pay their already reduced tuition fees.

Online Courses

The Open University is another player in the higher education tuition fee increase environment. The number of applicants ages 18 to 19 to the OU have increased fastest among other age brackets. Many young people made this university’s online education mode as their alternative to the high price and limitations of the traditional academic set up. Students in online courses can adjust their school time so that they can do jobs to earn money for their cost of living and studying. Students on the online education set up will need more time to get their degree but they avoid a future of paying debts.

Accounting Courses on Scholarships

Another financing alternative for education is offered by KPMG. They are hiring scholars. Successful applicants will do work in their accounting and related firms while studying accounting under their sponsorship. Further, KPMG will continue to employ them after they have graduated.

Courses Abroad

Still another opportunity to avoid the high UK tuition fees and heavy UK student loans is looking for education outside Britain. Some high schools, on top of helping their students identify what career path to take, offer assistance in finding educational institutions abroad where young people and their families will be able to cut expected costs. This and the rest of the mentioned effects contribute to the reasons why students’ choices of degree courses are affected and university applications drop amid higher tuition fees.

Posted on January 10, 2014

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