Waiting for Lord Browne

Once again, we face a crisis in the future of our universities. The cost of our education is set to escalate once more, removing the system of higher education further and further from everyman attainability, and back towards the privilege of the privileged.

The educational and political world is waiting for the release of Lord Browne’s review of the university education system, the results of which are expected to throw the question of university funding into further quandary. With Vince Cable already ditching the idea of a graduate tax, the main conclusion of the review is expected to be to raise the tuition fee cap, which is currently set at £3,290.

Students across the UK are already anticipating leaving university with up to £30,000 of debt for their undergraduate degree, and the attitude of the government simply seems to be that, if students are already going to be in debt, why not make it more? The cost of our education is soon to become too much for us struggling students.

It’s a far cry from that old egalitarian notion of higher education for all; as although the introduction of fees does not seem to have put students off in the past, by hiking them up further and further, school students will soon begin to ask whether university is really worth it. Is this what education has come to?

Rather than an exciting opportunity to further your education, meet new people, broaden your horizons, or improve your employability, university will soon appear as an unnecessary extravagance, available only to those with the personal finances to cover it. The student stereotype is already beleaguered by the government, and the results of this review have the potential to ensure that university education is nearly unattainable.

York appears to be in a more fortunate position than most universities, as it is already oversubscribed, and has the benefit of private funding, so hopefully York’s international reputation will override potential increases in fees.

Easy as it is to demonise the universities for raising their fees without students seeing any change in the services they receive, if funding cuts for university teaching becomes a reality, universities will be left with a massive hole in their finances left unfilled by the government, and therefore it is students who will be turned to for help.

For us, there has always been a cost attached to our education, and we have paid it only knowing that our education will be ‘fantastic’, and there are support mechanisms in place for us. Now, the benefits of a university education are being negated by the potentially crippling price we would have to pay.

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