I feel lucky that I was born in the UK and at the time I went to university, not only were the tuition fees covered by the state, but that I also received grant to live on. Basically I was paid to go to college.
It was means tested, and I didn’t qualify for a full grant, but even so along with a contribution from my parents and taking a part-time bar job, I was able to compete my degree in Mathematics and come out the other end with little to no debt, definitely nothing more that 500 GBP.
When I compare that todays world where the majority of students have pay their tuition fees, books, accommodation and living expenses; many are leaving university or college with significant debt, in the UK the average debt in 2014 was 44,000 GBP ($67,000). Remember this is the average, which means for some, especially those studying for 5 years like doctors, it will be much higher.
A recent report in the Independent stated that 73% of students would not have paid off their debts before they are in their fifties.
This is a significant change in policy since the 1980s, when I went to university.
Why are we saddling our best and brightest with such a burden, especially when there are fewer jobs available, which make paying off such debts almost impossible?
I was asking myself that question this morning, why do we do that? who approved it? who voted for it?
I know when the fees were increased there was a lot of debate, discussion and disagreement, but I don’t remember the point about students ending up with 40k plus of debt and them not being able to pay it back until they were 50, being raised.
Did the people who implemented this understand these implications, or have we just stumbled into this situation.
Personally I don’t believe it’s the latter, so that would imply we knew this would happen, which again raises the question of why would you do that.
To me it does feel like we have brought back indentured labour. This is where people have to work for a number of years to repay the debts, they basically become debt slaves. It was a popular way during the 17th and 18th century, as a way of paying your passage to America.
This does not seem like a good idea, not unless you want to have control over our best and brightest, to tie them down to make them conform, to stop them from trying to change the status quo.
For those who don’t wish to be saddled with debt, their options are to not go to university, or to look to pay off there debts working on the side. Which can often lead to many women working in strip clubs or the sex trade to pay their fees, according to this article in the Independent one in three strippers in the UK, are students paying off their fees.
What kind of society looks to either burden their best and brightest with debt, or to push their brightest women into stripping, in order to pay for an education which was free only 30 years ago?
Indentured labour was abolished in the early stages of the last century, yet I believe with the introduction of these high student fees in the UK we have re-introduced it.
But the question as to why remains, and don’t believe it was because of cost, I believe it has much more to do with control.
What do you think?