Thursday, 15 March 2018 16:32

You can put a price on education

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Is British higher education really worth so much money?

By Lottie and Fay


In the UK, the rising costs of student loans means that some prospective students can no longer afford to attend university. The combined total of outstanding student loans is £100 billion.

As of 2018, in the UK, 40% of 17 – 30 year olds attend university compared to less than 10% in the 1960s. Full-time students can expect to pay £9,000 a year for tuition and the average student will have spent £27,000 on tuition by the time they graduate.


On top of tuition fees, students need to pay maintenance costs, such as accommodation, food, transport and course materials. Students living outside of London will typically spend £5,500 on maintenance costs per year while students living inside London will pay up to £7,880, meaning that many students will leave university with a burden of £40,000 worth of debt.

Unfortunately for graduates, unlike in previous years, student loans are no longer interest free. During degree courses, interest on these loans can amount to 3% above inflation, resulting in up to 6% overall. 

However, loans can be written off if the student has earnt less than £21,000 a year for 30 years.

Tuition fees have not always been so high. University was free until 1997, when the Labour government introduced fees of £1,000 per year. These fees have escalated over the last 15 years, with fees rising to £9,000 per year in 2013.

At CCHSG, fifty 15-18 year old girls were surveyed and 56% said they already worry about how they will repay their student loan. 

Additionally 60% said they thought it fair that taxpayers pay some tuition fees. 

18% thought taxpayers should pay all tuition fees and the rest thought taxpayers should not contribute at all. 

Mrs Keane, the Upper School Pastoral Assistant, who helps students with university applications, gave her opinion on the matter. 

“As a mother, I think families should help out with tuition fees but it would ideally be less money. I wouldn’t mind paying a little extra tax to relieve the burden on children. 

“Students should definitely pay for the maintenance fees. 

“I don’t think the teaching value has increased even though the fees have - this is of course because the political issues have changed”.

She also described the rising popularity of apprenticeships with young people. “This year, 10 out of 100 students in Year 13 are doing apprenticeships as an alternative to university - this is many more than last year and many more than the year before that”. 

Britain has the highest student debt in the western world because British students are paying the most in tuition fees. But the question for prospective undergraduates remains: is British higher education worth the cost?

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