In an Urban Wisdom luncheon we discussed why four out of six of us had not gone to university. An hour had elapsed, and obviously given the ridiculous hike in tuition fees last year, our main arguments circled this £9,000 deterrent. Yes… we know a student loan is a convenient way to cover the cost of our fees and maintenance at university – though it may mean living on beans on toast for three years, and of course, we understand that we don’t pay a penny back before earning £21,000.
We also appreciate the need to cut government spending. But such a drastic increase in the cost of our fees is serving as an incredible deterrent to school leavers, especially those from low income backgrounds. We are scared of taking on the responsibility of an approximate £36,000 loan. Sometimes in our homes it’s difficult even to come by a ‘tenner’ for the meter, so there is no doubt that the idea of repaying such an amount is fear-worthy, no matter how minute a fraction of our future pay cheques it may be.
Though, in these matters, there’s often a third perspective. What about those who do not qualify for a student loan: a situation facing an increasing number of young people today. Youth who may have lived in Britain since childhood, but do not have legal immigration statuses. This, probably owing to the 10 year backlog of applications held by the UKBA; to the thousands of children brought to the UK by relatives who did not manage their immigration situations; or even to the growing number illegally entering the UK for an education. These youth, of whom many would have been our peers in schools and colleges, will not be able to go to university.
Student loans afford us the great opportunity of pursuing our life’s ambitions. This is an opportunity not afforded to our peers in countries where governments do not offer academic support and to a growing number in our communities who do not qualify for a UK student loan.
So, despite the disagreeable terms, we ought to grab this opportunity to better ourselves, improve our prospects and our communities. One day we’ll be the decision makers of our society, we’ll have understood the importance of a Higher Education, and from there we’ll make it more accessible to future generations.
Courtesy of Urban Wisdom