UK: Education For The Wealthy Only?

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[Global: U.K.] 

With the current credit crunch paralyzing many families in the United Kingdom, the reality for the hopeful young students from underprivileged minority groups in particular fear being left out lucrative jobs.

The U.K. government has previously used a scheme of paying tuition fees for the unprivileged students and then charging them when they start work after University.

According to a former lecturer at Oxford and Southampton Universities, Professor Colin Morris, a historian, the policy enabled most families on low incomes to pick up assistance towards their children’s tuition fees. “Its going to be very expensive for many students from the poor families,” Professor Morris said, referring to ending of such grants.

The universities also have been helping out from a scheme known as bursaries. In most cases this has also helped students get low-interest students loan from banks. This low-interest help full time students with their living costs whilst they are at university. The loans are also repaid upon graduation when the students start working.

The U.K. government now argues that graduates have an advantage in the job market so should therefore make a payment towards their education at the university. Full time undergraduates are now legally responsible to pay tuition fees of up to £3,225 per year beginning 2009 - 2010. Minority and low-income communities will be most disproportionately impacted.

Enrolment will decline for fear of accumulating debt. Tuition fees had long held at £1,000 until it went up to £3000 in 2006.
“Tuition fees make it harder for the working class portion of the public to further their education,” said Rebecca Glithero, a student. “If it wasn’t for student loans, only the upper classes or those who could afford it, would be able to attend university, especially as the cost of tuition fees are on the rise.”

She said anyone is eligible to apply for a student loan so can, effectively, afford to go to university but the problem is paying back the loan when a student has finished their degree.

John Linford said fees would naturally prevent students from applying to University, arguing that in an ideal world, there wouldn’t be any tuition fees as this would give everyone an equal opportunity to choose to go to University and succeed in their career.

“I certainly do not feel that a prospective student should be penalized and subsequently prevented from attending University because they do not have the financial means,” he said. “What I would like to see is a financial penalty imposed on students who sign up to do a course and then do not attend; complete the course etcetera, thus costing the taxpayer money.”
“I don’t think that this is an exception to the UK; I think that this is happening all over the world,” he added.

Lisa Rose reasoned that the rationale that students who have attained a degree will find better paid work automatically is inaccurate and too much of generalization, which would give a huge unfair advantage to those students from a wealthy background.

"Graduates are finding it harder than ever to find jobs after university, the extra cost of tuition fees will no doubt put a lot of potential university student off applying,” Rose said.

Separately, Simon Kemp, from Higher Education Statistics Agency insisted: “The government will offer some loans to students."

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