It’s been 2 Sundays since the last edition, so it’s time for the third instalment of the Truth About Uni Collab I’m doing with a bunch of other student bloggers, revealing our open and honest opinions about different aspects of University. This week is a topic I’m ready to have a bit of a rant about: Student Finance.
Compared to some places like the USA, England actually has a pretty good student finance system. The government pays for each year of Uni for you (£9000-9250… yeah the prices rose this year so that was… great), and you get a little bit of extra money to live off of (for food, accommodation, etc), paid to you in termly instalments. Yes, this money is all essentially a loan, but it’s paid back a little bit like a tax: taken out of your pay-cheque before the money even reaches you, only after you start making over £21,000 a year, then all is erased after 30 years.
I understand that to some this may seem lenient and great, and don’t get me wrong I’m not taking it for granted, however there is still a lot wrong with the system, so I thought I’d go into it. Some may be particular to me or people in similar situations to me, and some are general for anyone going to Uni. So without further ado, here are my issues with the student loan:
The Cost of University
Yes, £9000 is a lot of money, but I was initially understanding given the amount of buildings and maintenance you have to do and the fact Uni of Bristol’s libraries don’t do late fees. However, when you consider how much time I actually spend at Uni, it’s kind of ridiculous. As a humanities student (read more about my course here) I have 7-9 hours a week, and these only take place 22 weeks of the year. That means I’m essentially spending £9000 for 176 hours of teaching, which works out to £51.13 per lecture/seminar. Though some of my lecturers are amazing and I learn so much, some of them are… less useful and I most certainly wouldn’t willingly pay £51.13 for them.
I’m in no way bashing my Uni or its hours here – I think that the hours I have are well suited to the hours of extra work I have to do. However, in the 3 years I attend University I will have racked up £18,000 of debt on University fees alone, which when I really think about it is ridiculously expensive for something that schools push on teenagers with the message that its vital for a good future. Surely something that is so vital to life shouldn’t be given such an expensive price tag? Is that not a basic form of extortion? Starting this year, Uni’s can now raise their fees to £9250 a year, because the Government believe that the more we pay, the better the quality of teaching will be… Perhaps the less you charged, the better the morality of the students would be… but hey this is just one persons opinion.
The Maintenance “Loan”
A few years ago, the money used to be a grant, meaning that you didn’t have to pay it back. In my opinion this makes a lot more sense; we’re Uni students, we’re supposed to spend our time focusing on building our futures instead of earning money, and most of us live away from our parents, therefore we don’t really have the time or means to cover our living costs. However, being the lovely people that they are, the government have now made the maintenance grant a loan instead, adding to the amount of money we all have to try and pay back once we’re in the working world.
The Criteria for the Maintenance Loan
This has to be the one that irritates me the most. You see the amount you get for living costs is judged based on your parents collective annual income. I understand where they’re coming from with this, but I feel like they need to further examine the criteria/how much they give.
You see, I wouldn’t class my family as poor at all; my parents make enough to ensure that we all live comfortably, however they are in no way rich enough to may my way through University… and yet I apparently fall into the highest bracket, meaning that I get the smallest maintenance loan that they give. This loan is supposed to cover my rent and give me money for food and books, but the money I receive covers just over half of the rent for my accommodation. If I had to rely solely on this money I wouldn’t be able to live, and yes, my parents are helping me cover the rent because they have no other choice, but they’ve had to do some serious saving and moving things around to be able to help me out.
I should not be judged based on my parents income. I know people with parents that are paying for their rent and letting them use their loan for food and supplies as well, and yet they receive more a good £4000 more than I do with their loan. If you ask me, this does not seem like a fair system at all? My parents annual income is not a reflection of my financial situation, and it really irritates me how this part of the system is run.
So, there you go, these are my (somewhat angry, I know) thoughts on the current Student Finance system. Like I said (briefly), it does have its benefits, but hey at the end of the day I’m gonna be left with a mountain of debt, so I reckon I have the right to point out the downsides of the system.
Tell me your opinions in the comments, I’m happy to engage in some friendly debate! and check out the stories about Becky, Kate, Tori, Sophie, Saffron, Anna and Jen and their experiences of Student Finance!
Lots of love,