Friday, February 27, 2015

Why haven't tuition fees deterred young people from going to university?

This tweet, which I sent from platform 2 at Leicester station this morning, has received an extraordinary (for me) number of retweets. I think that is in part because Owen Jones was one of the first people to retweet it.

But this is not the argument that was most often deployed against introducing and then increasing tuition fees.

Those who opposed them said that fees would deter young people from going to university. But today we are told that there are more students in British universities than ever and, in particular, more students from poorer backgrounds.

So why have tuition fees failed to deter people from going to university?

I can think of three possible reasons, though no doubt there are more.

The first is that young people are optimistic. Even if tuition fees are a burden, they assume that they personally do well, get a good job and have no money worries.

The second is that the new system really is better than the old one and young people have realised this and gone to university without a care.

The third is that it is now next to impossible to get an interview for many jobs without having a degree. So however bad the system is, young people have to put up with it.

I fear this last reason may be the most powerful and that the phenomenon of graduates in non-graduate jobs will becoming an increasing problem in future years.


Pete said...

There is another reason. A couple of my kids are studying dance. They're not at degree level but have friends who are. When I asked if they were worried about all the debt they were going to end up with - their answers were variations on "No - we're very unlikely ever to earn enough to have to start paying it back." Look at the starting salaries for jobs in the Arts; in music, dance, theatre - or in sport, therapy - even teaching.
I think there was an unrealistic assumption about wage increases built into the scheme - hence the predicted hangover for the taxpayer.

Phil Beesley said...

I reckon that you aren't talking to people who can't go to university.