Thursday, 16 June 2011

University Fees...Are They Worth It??

With University fees set to rise to £9000 a year, I've been thinking about how this will impact on my family.

A study of 500 middle income families taken by Edge, a charity that aims to raise awareness for vocational education, showed that 51% believed they would be unable to afford to send their child to university.  31% believed that higher education was not even worth the investment.

I have a 19 year old daughter who has just completed her second year at the University of Manchester where she studies Business and Marketing. Ian earns too much for her to get any financial help, but she gets a loan for tuition fees.  But we have to support her so she can live, eat, buy books and of course socialise!  It doesn't come cheap.  Ian may earn well on paper but in reality we have a mortgage, two cars, three dependant kids and a 22 year old who still needs financial help too, as he tries to make his own way in the world.  We are bled a little bit dry!  Yes, we are incredibly fortunate that Ian earns enough to support us all, but we are not by any stretch of the imagination 'rolling in it' after all the outgoings have gone out!

We don't get Family Tax Credits and our Child Benefit is going to stop if the government's proposals go ahead.  Our finances will be even tighter.  Yet when daughter number 2 goes to university we will be expected to foot even more cash to facilitate her education.  I hate to think of my kids starting their working life with a £30 grand debt.  What a weight to hang around their necks!

I'm glad that my children are attracted to the academic subjects studied at red brick unis.  If they are going to be saddled with debt I want them to at least get a respected degree that is translatable in the work place.  God help those parents whose kids study Lady Gaga or Klingon studies!  Hopefully with a fair wind behind them, my kids might even be able to get a job when they graduate and begin to pay off their awful debt!!!

To me though, the experience of going to university is about so much more than about getting an education.  I've seen Megan take on student life head on. It hasn't all been plain sailing, in fact there have been times when every fibre of my body has cried out for me to go collect her and bring her back to the safety and comfort of the family home.  Yet every problem she has overcome has equipped her with more coping mechanisms which will help her in the future.  It's been a steep learning curve but she has come through it all brilliantly, stronger, more resourceful and has had an incredible journey on the way.  She has found love...and learned so much about herself as an individual and as part of a couple.  Coming from a small market town in the country, the chance to live in a big city is priceless.  Meeting like-minded people, visiting new places, experiencing a diverse range of opportunities are things that money just can't buy.  University is stepping stone between the childhood home and being an independent grown-up, making the transition easier.

For those reasons, I think the fees are worth every penny.

You can't put a price on love.

Formal Balls at Fabulous Venues
So when Megan finishes, Ella will be hot on her heels.  But I won't begrudge a penny of our expense.  My kids make me proud and I'll do everything I can to give them the best life possible...OK, this means no exotic holidays or designer clothes for me and Ian...but what's wrong with Centre Parcs and Primark anyhow!!!


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