I left University in 1999 and was lucky enough to get a grant for my first year and a reasonable loan for the rest of my academic career. I can remember having to start paying back the loan pretty much straight after graduation when I started my new job.
I believe that all education should be free for those with the aptitude and willingness to learn. I am also a realist and know that unless the money is found through fair taxation this will never happen.
These days, with increased tuition fees and all the myths that have built up around it, it must be difficult for people considering going to University to make a fair and balanced decision.
If you are already in higher education the increase in cost does not affect you. It only applies to students entering higher education for the first time in September 2012 or later.
Can you afford to go to University? It’s important to remember that the cost of tuition does not have to be paid up front. You only start to repay your tuition loan when you are earning more than £21,000. Supporting loans or grants may also be available to help cover living costs. This means that under the new arrangements, most full-time students should have the same amount of financial support available as current students. Students from lower income families will get more non-repayable maintenance support to help towards living costs than they do now.
Will you be saddled with a lifetime of debt as a result of the changes? No.
A graduate earning £25,000 per year would repay their loan at a rate of £6.92 per week. If earnings fall, then the repayments will fall as well. Graduates won’t have to pay back anything until they are earning more than £21,000 a year.
The £21,000 earning threshold will be uprated annually in line with earnings from April 2016.
Any outstanding payments will be written off after 30 years. If you are in lower paid work or unpaid work (which may include time bringing up a family) you won’t be asked to make a contribution.
Are we encouraging a class-based education system, with universities out of reach for students from poorer communities? No
Many students from poorer backgrounds will be better off under the new system, additional support is available through grants and loans. The National Scholarship Programme also aims to encourage more bright students from poorer communities go to university.