There’s More Than Money to Lose

Words by Billie Jenkins

Statistics have come out his week revealing the estimated cost of university students to the taxpayer under the new trebled tuition fees stands at £5bn. This roughly equates to a 5% saving to the taxpayers for an approximate 45% increase in costs for those borrowing to educate themselves, as the extra fees add a further £17,000 to an already steep loan. I say steep, but in reality it is the best loan you can ever hope to get. Gone after thirty years. Great. Minimum payments start after you earn £21,000. Sweet. Even more worrying, the 5% saving is the cold hard cash figures. The effect of people resisting a university education, or not opting for the best education available to them in consideration of the cheaper option is not taken into account. But we all knew trebling tuition fees was a bad idea anyway, or at least I thought we did until they went ahead and did it anyway.

What effect will these changes have on our creative industries I wonder? Since very few of the arts offer a deep jobs pool, or the promise of a Moët fuelled lifestyle (dealers, designers and art directors aside) do we see this as a drop in the ocean for arts universities which were never seen as the most cost-effective way to riches, a promise of more upfront funding for the students, or a challenge to their diversity; how many people can really justify dropping £40,000 on self directed study and some lovely extra curricular anyway? The arts sector is one of the most vulnerable in times of austerity, but the effects of trebled tuition will not be understood until it is to late. If this weeks stats prove anything it is that the public and students are not getting value for money in the price hike, but the sad truth is the is the potential we will lose something more that can’t be quantified in pound signs and zeros.


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