What comes to mind when I mention the new uni tuition fees system? Headline £9,000 fees? But how does the system actually work? A recent survey found there’s widespread confusion among students and parents.
With most universities punting for the top fees, everyone will have to pay £9k, right? Well it’s not quite as simple as that, and confusion seems to be rife.
When YouGov surveyed parents of teenagers, one in three admitted to knowing little or nothing about how the new student finance system will work. Half of the parents also felt they hadn’t received enough information from universities.
Metro reader Julie Pavan, mother of 15-year-old Poppy, expressed her concerns: ‘other than what we’re told in the media, I’ve absolutely no idea what’s going on at all’.
More than just headline fees
So are we just stupid, or is the new system actually difficult to understand? Well, in a separate poll of university vice-chancellors by Universities UK, almost all (95%) felt that people misunderstood the new system.
Yes, the headline numbers are incredibly high, but there’s a lot more to think about beyond the words ‘NINE GRAND’. The student loans system is still designed to postpone paying for study until you’re earning a reasonable amount, and support is available for poorer students. So don’t bury your head in the sand just yet.
Although the new fees system might be baffling, what is clear is that the impending increase has forced parents to get more involved – a third now plan to intervene in their offspring’s choice of uni according to YouGov’s survey.
So what can be done to tackle this confusion? Universities need to push past the row over fees, explain how the new system works and, according to Universities UK, start influencing parents.
Should you be fearful of student debt?
If you want to be a student, it’s basically a given that you’ll need to get the rents involved. But if you’re really set on it, don’t let them talk you out of going to uni, or a particular institution. Yes, you’re going to get into lots of debt but, as Laura Starkey explained in a previous Conversation, there’s a big difference between debt from a student loan and debt from a credit card.
Hell, I’m in 16 grand’s worth of debt and I’m all the better for it. Do I have a penny of credit card debt against my name? No. So keep a level head and don’t be scared, as our personal finance expert Ian Robinson explains:
‘Generally, getting a good degree can still boost your employment prospects, so don’t be put off. As you’re paying so much, it is important to be sure that it’s worthwhile and something you will benefit from in the future. And you shouldn’t be shy of asking universities to justify the high fees they’ve decided to charge.’
Universities will have a hard time convincing students that their degrees will be worth the financial strain, simply due to the fees controversy. But if you look beyond the headlines and concentrate on exactly how you’re going to fund university life, you may be able to justify it.
If you’re intending to go to university, or you have a child who is, are you baffled by the new tuition fees system?