University tuition fees are back in the spotlight

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 Luca Cattaneo Ferrari
Education Higher Education Online Tutoring Oxbridge Admissions Tutoring

A strong education system features prominently in discussions around economic and social development. Business and society on the whole benefit from a well-educated graduate workforce. But how should we continue to invest in education and in the future successes of students in the UK? Let's consider some option. Students have a growing amount of debt when they finish their university careers, in some cases over £50,000. Over time, the cost of going to university has increased. It is well understood that the choice of going to university is closely linked to how students can handle a big cost and deal with a considerable debt in future years.

Speaking recently, Ed Miliband commented: "Young people feel they have no control because they are going into mountains of debt if they go to university".

On the other hand, there is a return on such a huge investment in terms of graduate earnings and long-life income benefits. These are important considerations to keep in mind! The repayments of graduates are not based on what is necessary to borrow to reach the university, but on the earnings they receive as a result of their study. Thinking about this, students are arguably not discouraged to enroll in university.

University tuition fees are back in the spotlight

What Theresa May said about higher education in her Conservative Party conference speech

The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has promised a general review of the costs of education and the quality of the school system, also promising a wide-ranging review of the whole of higher education and how it is funded. Most of the interest will be undergraduate tuition fees, which stand at a hefty £9,250 a year. Just to remember, tuition fees were introduced by the Labour government in 1998 and were initially based on a student’s financial circumstances. The cap was raised to £3000 in 2004 and then trebled to £9000 in 2010. They currently stand at £9,250.

Back to the debate, let’s discuss about the potential for reforming the university tuition payment system. One of the main options, advocated by the Conservative party, is to create a differentiation of university fees, subdividing them into categories depending on the total cost of putting on a course, potential graduate earnings and the economic value to the country. Here it is helpful to suggest a practical example. Conferring to the idea of university subdivision, some universities might, for instance, cut their fees for social science and humanities courses, which generally attract lower graduate earnings than engineering or maths, where generally the potential gain is higher. It is normal now to think about what this system could produce over time. Surely, there will be a clear distinction between the diverse degree courses and a marked discrimination between students will be evident according to the degree course they are attending.

It seems that an alternative system has come out. Senior Tories, including the former education secretary Justine Greening and the former universities minister David Willetts, prefer to see alternative measures including a cut in interest rates on student repayments, which currently stand at 6.1%, and increased financial support for disadvantaged students. Following this observation, we can only hope that something will change soon, and the universities will become more accessible even for those who do not have sufficient financial resources. For the moment, dear students, things are not changing and it surely will not up to September 2019.

University tuition fees in England now the highest in the world

Tuition fees around the World
Tuition fees around the World

According to the Student Loan Calculator website university tuition fees in England are now the highest in the world. The average annual cost of £9,250 makes it significantly more expensive than higher education in the US, where the average student pays $9,410 (£7,518) per annum. Students in England are also paying significantly more than their peers in other European countries. Also, looking at the fees of the neighbouring countries of Europe, students in England are also paying significantly more, certainly leaving out the Scandinavian countries where the educational system is completely fee-free.

University of London
University of London

In the past few days, the University of London announced a fully fledged undergraduate degree course completely taught online for £5,650 per year over three years. This is positive innovation, students who work part-time can embark on a university career, against the backdrop of the continuous tuition fee growth that is becoming inaccessible for some. The university's deputy chief executive, Craig O'Callaghan, says it expects to attract "people who are working and need a more flexible approach". This represents a comprehensive emerging distance learning system in its approach to using online courses to give more opportunities for undergraduate students. I think this is a fantastic development and would recommend students of all ages not to miss the opportunity!

Doing some more in-depth research has highlighted another aspect that I would like to share with you, University students, faced with the high debt they have to pay; maybe you would prefer to invest a little more in private tutoring. As we know, in some cases, the help of a tutor can be essential to pass specific tests or exams that otherwise would be very difficult, and sometimes impossible!

But why should they spend even more, in the face of what they already have to pay?

The answer is simple. Investing a little more in extra tutoring means that you do not risk losing academic years. In the latter case, extra years at university would certainly be more expensive than investing in some extra tutoring during the year.

Dear readers, I advise you take a look at this interesting post, which talks about how tutoring can be a great way to reduce the cost of losing university years.

All you need to know about online tutoring

Online tuition
Online tuition

Online tuition

A interesting survey, conducted by thetutorpages, about online tuition, showed that many tutors charged the same rate when they were tutoring online. However, some do reduce their rates slightly. In the survey, around a quarter stated that they charged 70%-100% of their face-to-face fee. Moreover they found out that:

  • Around 80% of UK tutors use Skype to tutor online;
  • The cost of online tuition is about the same as face-to-face, or slightly less;
  • Payment is usually made by bank transfer, or through Paypal;
  • Parents will often choose online tuition because of the convenience, the lack of local tutors, or because they’re living abroad;
  • Online tutors report a number of advantages, such as flexibility in lesson scheduling and no travel costs;
  • Some online tutors believe that students can learn better online compared to face-to-face;
  • Online tuition is most popular for secondary school subjects or for adult learning.

Why not take a look at this post that talks about ways of doing innovative tutoring in accordance to student’s learning style.

In conclusion, it is normal to think that there is someone who thinks that studying at university is an investment for their future, while others think and hope that access to university should consist of lower fees. Even if the fees correspond to different categories of study, they should still be lower than the current level of cost. Thinking about how high this cost is, perhaps some of you may consider it appropriate to attend tutoring, which allows you not to immerse yourself in extra years of study that surely would be a waste of money and time.

What are your suggestions concerning how the university system should handle tuition fees? Should the government find a solution against the continuing tuition fee growth? Are there other more important areas we should be looking at?

Thanks for reading and please do not hesitate to share your thoughts!



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