The very nature of paying for tuition is currently coming under intense scrutiny from left-leaning factions of Westminster. York students receive up to 30 taught weeks per year. Compounded with low contact hours, this indeed caps the amount of value one can genuinely say they receive for £9250. The underlying issue of the debate surrounding term times is simple; do students get enough value for their money? As a student of English, I enjoy relatively low levels of contact hours with my degree focused on the independent study which I do outside of my lectures and seminars. This method of learning, in my humble opinion at least, is fine.
The step up from A-Level for humanities subjects is the level at which you have to be involved in your learning. Even with subjects that require more contact hours, there seems to be a healthy balance between taught and independent study hours. The problem with value does not lie with the quality of the degree, but with the absurd amount that students pay for tuition. Indeed, as degrees go, what you get at the University of York is not t h a t bad: access to leading researchers in the field , fairly good facilities and also access to a wealth of materials for independent research. These all provide a solid case for some fee. However, the size and manner in which these fees are charged heavily negates the value students and those around us feel we are getting for what ends up (with interest) being over £50 000 worth of debt, which will remain for the foreseeable future.
Only if and when these fees have been significantly lowered or abolished will we see true value for money in our prestigious universities. Political movements for the abolition of these fees should unite those who question the value of higher education to tackle their common enemy, tuition fees themselves. We need to recognise the salient fact: a change in tuition is the best way to achieve a truly fair fee-system. Gone are the days under Cameron when it seemed that tuition fees were here to stay. As students, the collective fates of us and the students we precede are in a political flux.
The Conservatives’ result in the last election ensured a begrudging fee freeze from them. Now we must show them that our generation, our demographic ,can be the true political powerhouse and force them to make the price of higher education reflect what students get out of it and what we provide the rest of the country. But I digress. This column is not the ramblings of an old champagne socialist; in f a c t , it is about something that conservatives should hold dear : keeping higher education competitive quality as well as good value for money. This is an ideal that should attract support across the political spectrum