Tuition fee future consequences

tuition feesAS YOU WILL all be aware, the price of education is now set at £9000 a year for tuition fees, an increase which many students feel is an unwarranted and unfair burden to bear. According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the average debt a student will incur throughout their education amounts to £44,000 under the new increase and £25,000 if we go by the old pricing system.

The intention of this increase was to create a system where Universities would be less dependent upon government subsidies and instead sustain themselves through the funds they receive from student applicants. This would enable the government to make huge cuts to University teaching grants, yet this system has only created more problems within the education system. By proposing to lift the cap on the number of students that universities can recruit and the cuts to teaching grants, there has been a restructuring within the higher education system.

Universities are now divided into three different categories where third tier clearing universities will be under massive pressure to keep up recruitment numbers. There is a concern that third tier universities will have to accommodate applicants who aren’t suited to higher education. This is the strategy third tier institutes will have to pursue, in order to cope with the lifting of the cap restriction.
Concerns over the standards of education and rising non-completion rates will become forefront issues for these universities. This argument still applies for second tier universities as they will seek to capitalize upon the declining third tier and offer an expansive repertoire of products to attract more applicants, again raising the same issues.

Aberystwyth has been greatly affected by these issues, seeing a slip down the University rankings table coupled with a declining amount of applications for this academic year as students are drawn to other universities. This new system has forced universities to look at the costs affecting their revenue streams as they have been forced to operate more like businesses. Universities are increasingly accepting more applications from foreign, non EU students as they provide far higher grants than domestic UK students. This preferential treatment of foreign students may raise issues over profit instead of acceptance on academic merit. The focus upon costs has also seen a reduction in the time teachers have to lecture their students, in an effort to slash the costs that their wages employ, again raising concerns over education standards.

Teachers also face the prospect of having their pensions slashed as the Universities UK organisation seeks to a career revalued benefits scheme where after £50,000 pounds a year, employers would only pay 12% of income into a pension scheme. All of these measures have greatly affected the incomes of education staff which has amalgamated into the ongoing marking boycott. I believe the new educational system being employed is at the center of these problems.