Top-Up Fees

Posted: 21.10.06 in Blogging

I just received an email from the NUS about a protest it is making about top-up fees in London on 29th October. And here, amongst the other (rubbish) stuff it says was:

Top 3 reasons for attending the national demo:

  1. You’re a student. If you don’t get involved in a good old-fashioned protest now, when will you?
  2. As someone at university or college, by raising your voice now you’ll be protecting the interests of generations of students to come – including your own siblings.
  3. It’s fun! When else do you get a chance to shout, chart (sic), sing and meet new friends all at the same time?

Well this speaks volumes to me about the kind of people that run the NUS. They are what many people perceive to be the “typical” student. They want it all, they want it now, and they want it for free (or at least at a student rate).

Ok, I must admit, on hearing that fees, and then top-up fees, were being introduced, I did not think “Oh good!”. But I can’t say that it’s unfair. Having said that, I fear that if universities will be allowed to charge different fees, then potential students might be put off and settle for a cheaper institution. Those that can get financial backing from sponsors (including parents) can afford to get to the more expensive (and thus better) universities. That is my only concern.

But on the other side of the coin, why on Earth should we spend three or so years at university, getting a free service from the state, when only we will see the benefit? It is an investment. I think it is fairer that we should take out a state-sanctioned loan that we pay off once we have started earning. I would prefer it if everyone was entitled to the same loan, though. Often it is the case that parents that “can” afford it, can’t. Or won’t.

What’s the alternative? That we have to work for thirty years to save up and then go? That is the reality for many, who decided against further or higher education after school. By that time, some opportunities have simply vanished. Would a medical school take on someone who did their biology A Level twenty years ago? Perhaps with some reluctance and trepidation.

If people are that bothered, go to the USA. The top universities demand fees in excess of £25,000 a year, I believe. Then come back and tell me that our system is unfair.

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