Well, how about that government eh? The news coverage of the Browne Report made me do three things:
- get a large glass of wine
- rage some more
Whether the changes are fair or not, Browne’s suggestions highlight the fact that embarking on a degree should be taken very seriously. I remember the sheer ‘Squeeeee!’ that came with the appearance of my student loan at the start of every term, but that money wasn’t really real to me, it wasn’t something I’d worked for; it was just there, and I was much more free with that money than the money I earned for myself.
With fees set to rise and every student and prospective student in the country freaking out, maybe it’s time to start thinking about the investment we make when we accept our uni places. Our money is paying for this, and that money is real! The student loan is not just a magic number in a bank account, it’s our future earnings. It’s money that we could have had but won’t ever see a penny of: it’s gone years before it’s earned, plus interest.
With the possibility of losing £21,000 for 3 years education (plus a maintenance loan of around £9,000) you really need to be sure that you’re going to get something useful out of the investment. Afterall, who would willingly spend £30,000 on getting drunk, producing bad work and getting a substandard degree at the end of it?
What can you do?
So, say you’re at Uni, you’re spending that loan, but feeling a bit worried about the future. Or perhaps you’re an A level student, writing your UCAS application right now, thinking about how these new university fees are going to affect you. It’s impossible to predict what might happen, but it’s always possible to get the best, most rewarding experience out of higher education, if you can make use of all the resources available to you:
- University support services: these are invaluable, support centres normally run sessions on everything from practical advice for managing your time and study, to dealing with stress and money.
- Ask questions! Your tutors/professors are there for more than just lecturing – they have access to inside information and useful contacts.
- Research your industry/field in the real world, even better, do something to contribute that isn’t part of your course. If you’re a game design student, make games in your own time and contact companies. A journalism student: write as much and as often as possible, in as many places as possible!
Whilst the ideological implications of the Browne report are a matter for a different post, (perhaps even a different blog) the actual impact of increased fees will leave thousands of future students questioning their career decisions.
If University, that fantastic, thrown-in-at-the-deep-end life experience, is still your decision, then I’m hugely excited for you! I can certainly say it’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and would recommend it to anyone, but don’t ever be fooled into thinking it’s only about the drinking, or that a job is guaranteed at the end of it. The people who get the promised jobs are normally one of two things: well-connected or damn hard workers. Or , most likely, both.
Are you a graduate who would recommend a University education? Or not? Are you taking your A levels and making these tough decisions? Or are you a lecturer with a unique perspective on these issues? Any and all comments considered.