Unpopular opinion: tuition fees

Tuition fees came about during my time in secondary school. I can’t remember exactly when it was, but at the time I was trying to decide on my career path and whether or not university was right for me. I didn’t know which career I wanted to pursue anyway but after the introduction of tuition fees I decided that university wasn’t something that I could afford, especially when I wasn’t certain about whether I really wanted to go and what I would achieve from it.

When I moved onto college I was still confused about what I wanted to do, but of course, university was the next step for most students. The college I attended was always encouraging us to move onto university, in fact for me it felt like the only option as things like apprenticeships, gap years and full time work were hardly spoken of.

The college would put on university fairs and open evenings which I almost always attended because I wanted as much information as possible so I could make an informed decision. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do at this point so university was an unlikely option.

It was at one of the university fairs that I sat in on a talk about tuition fees and how they’re paid and it was eye opening to say the least. I don’t know how I thought tuition fees were paid back before I sat in on this talk but I was surprised to learn that it’s taken out of your wages before you receive them, the same as taxes are. Plus you don’t start paying your tuition fees until you earn more than £21,000 a year.

I personally think that university students should pay for their education except for those studying to become doctors, nurses, teachers or any other vital public service role. I don’t see why I should pay for someone to study Contemporary Circus and Physical Performance. How likely are they to get a job in that line of work by the time they’ve finished their course and how does their course benefit society as a whole?

I agree when people say that education is a right and that everyone should be entitled to it, I really do, but further education is a luxury. If you’re fortunate enough to achieve the grades you need to get into university then you should pay for it. It’s never been so competitive to get a place in your first choice university. I wasn’t fortunate enough to achieve the grades to go to university so why should I pay for someone else to have the privilege?

Let’s put this into perspective. By the time a university student who left school at the same time as me will have finished their degree I’ll have three years experience in marketing and will have worked my way up the career ladder while they’ll be just one of many graduates competing for the same jobs.

I know at least three people who have dropped out of their university course and others who either regret going to university in the first place or who aren’t enjoying their course at all. If the college I attended put as much effort into promoting apprenticeships and work as they did university then maybe those people would be in a better place and doing something that they enjoy.

How do you feel about university tuition fees? Are you a student at university? Let me know how you feel about the course you’re on and whether or not you believe tuition fees should be paid for by the government or not. If you’re not a university student let me know how you feel. What did you choose to do after you left school?

12 thoughts on “Unpopular opinion: tuition fees

  1. I’m not against some tuition fees as such, especially with the crazy courses coming up at some unis. But I do think that they are exceptionally high considering how much time you have actually being taught. In some of my classes there were over 100 people, each of those paying to be there.
    I think paying yourself makes you more motivated to do it well though so it’s not wasted.
    Also I completely agree that other options should be spoken about.
    I think it’s the same either way, some people leave uni and don’t work, and some people leave school early and don’t work.

    1. I never considered that paying for the course might make people more motivated to do well, that’s a good point. Thanks for reading!

  2. I studied an arts-based subject and actually agree with this post. I do think arts subjects are important though as they are a stepping stone for some people, however I’ve heard people on my course say ‘we deserve more funding, we pay more than other students!’ but as you said yourself – Higher Education is a luxury, and artists are certainly not in demand in comparison to Doctors and Nurses.
    I don’t come from the richest of backgrounds whatsoever and had to extend my overdraft three times and work 30+40 hours a week to sustain myself…Oh and I’ve paid an excess of £3k out of my own pocket to actually pass this degree. Worth it? Absolutely not. On top of that, nobody had a clue we had to pay an additional ‘studio fee’ every year.
    I have moments where I regret going to uni and times where I don’t because I’ve met some amazing people and honed my own skills, however I do think schools need to promote apprenticeships and other jobs that don’t necessarily require a degree because experience is everything to get somewhere these days. I certainly wouldn’t have gone to uni if I knew more about it when I was younger – but that’s the issue. Society expects us to know exactly what we want to do by the time we’re 16. Crazy isn’t it?

    1. I completely agree with you Christina! It sounds like university might not have been the best option for you but, like you say, unfortunately people do make the wrong decisions when they’re not given the right information. I hope you’re not too upset about it though and that university wasn’t a complete disappointment for you. It sounds like you’ve learned a lot from your experience at university and I suppose that’s something you can take away from it.

  3. I think your logic may be a little flawed when you say: “I wasn’t fortunate enough to achieve the grades to go to university so why should I pay for someone else to have the privilege?” I’ll explain by comparing it to another example: “I wasn’t unlucky enough to get cancer during my lifetime, so why should I pay for someone else to have the privilege of NHS treatment for it?” You certainly wouldn’t assert that my example is right, so I’m not convinced that the same logic can be applied to education. Everyone benefits from the taxes they pay in different ways.

    Broadly I do agree that education is a privilege, but why should that privilege should only be extended to those with rich enough parents to pay for their education? Someone equally (if not more) talented than the kid of a rich parent may be put off from applying to university because of the fees, especially now that grants have been cut even more severely. It’s a very complicated issue which doesn’t have a simple answer! Thank you for sharing your opinion, although we disagree it was an interesting read! 🙂

    1. I wouldn’t say that cancer treatment was a privilege, it’s a right, just like education is a right. However, like I said in the post, I believe further education is a luxury for those who are fortunate enough to have achieved the grades to go to university. University students are already privileged as they have the opportunity to extend their education so I don’t agree that the unfortunate people who didn’t have the opportunity should pay for them.
      Also you don’t need to have rich parents to attend university. The tuition fees are taken out of your wages like taxes so you never even see the money before it’s taken and you only start paying when you earn more than £21,000 a year. It has nothing to do with the wealth of your parents or family.
      I agree with you, it is a complicated topic and there’s so many differing opinions. Thank you for sharing yours and thank you for reading!

  4. I think everyone should pay for their degrees, regardless of what they study. But they are far too high, I study politics which is £9,000 per year but I only have classes (3 hours) twice a week – not value for money but I certainly don’t regret going to uni and costs didn’t put me off. You pay it back in small amounts after all. Whilst I do think further education is a privilege, it’s not about being fortunate enough to get the grades, it’s about the work you put in. I know not everyone in the world has the educational opportunities we do, but in the UK it’s about students hard work and that shouldn’t be over looked.

    Emily X | emilyclairewrites.com

    1. I agree that the fees are too high Emily, especially in your case! I’m glad you don’t regret your decision though. I don’t agree with you about hard work though, I worked super hard in college to achieve good grades in my A Levels but unfortunately my results weren’t as good as I hoped. Hard work doesn’t always equal good grades, it’s not that simple unfortunately.

  5. First off, just wanted to say I loved your post! I pay tuition fees for my university (£6750 a year) in Scotland. Whilst I completely agree with paying for university, I find it rather unfair that Scottish students at Scottish universities get to attend university for free because of their government set up. If I had stayed in Northern Ireland, my fees would’ve been £3500 a year and again I wouldn’t complain about paying this. What I find unfair is the fact there are students who have maybe triple the contact hours I have and a lot more support and they’re attending university for free. Especially those of them doing medicine. Whilst I agree there is a much greater need for doctors, nurses and dentists, I personally hate paying for students to take this course when they are equally as capable of paying fees as I am.

    1. That’s a good point, I hadn’t considered that. I’m glad you liked the post and good luck with your studies!

  6. I see what you mean. The fact is that UK tuition fees are outrageous. In France, people have to pay about 300€ per year which is way more affordable (and students have higher chances to get scholarships).

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