I see Germany have stopped charging tuition fees and I can only hope that the UK soon follows suit. My daughter wants to be a primary school teacher, I think she would be great at it. She has to have a degree to enter the profession and gaining that will mean coming out of university approximately £50,000 in debt.
She isn’t too worried about this, you pay it back in small increments and only when you reach a certain level of income, and most importantly she has a vocation and therefore it seems worthwhile to her, despite the scary figures involved.
We are a working class family, and figures suggest that some people from families like ours are being put off of going to university by the costs involved, which is a real shame. I will tell you something though, fear of these debts accrued throughout the course are not the only barrier.
We have been on a grand university tour in the last few weeks, attending open days AND interviews at the institutions she is interested in attending. The open days were inspiring, exciting and we have came away with great advice on applications and personal statements and the like. The interviews were essential, no chance of a place without them, she found them terrifying actually, but now has an offer for her university of choice under her belt so it has been worthwhile.
What it has not been is cheap. She had her last interview yesterday, and I think between her Dad and I (and a donation from her Grandparents) we have spent around £1000 on travel and on occasion accommodation.
Under normal circumstances we would not be able to afford this, it is thanks to an inheritance from my grandfather last year that I can fund my bit of these visits and I like to think he would approve of me spending his money this way. But without it she would not have been able to go, our budget does not have that kind of wiggle room.
What a shame it would be if some young people were missing out because of these costs. Most parents will try and find a way but it may be impossible. Some kids may feel too guilty to even ask, I know my daughter feels bad about the costs involved and has panicked about it from time to time.
We are the classic working class family where no one has been to university before, and that actually makes the open days even more important, I have no experience to impart. Some courses such as hers insist on an interview, and of course for careers such as teaching we really want to ensure the best candidates are getting places, as they will be teaching our children and grandchildren in years to come. What a shame that some talented youngsters may be missing out as they cannot afford the application process let alone the ongoing costs of attendance.
Apparently some universities will offer help with interview costs, some have clearly stated on her invitations to attend that they will not. I am sure there must be assistance available through somewhere, but it certainly not laid out for easy access, it would be nice if there was a clear process laid out for those who need it. If we want to encourage social mobility we are certainly not helping young people better themselves if we continue to have these financial barriers in the way. I would really hate to see a situation where once again access to higher education is only in the reach of the rich as every child/young adult deserves the chance to make the best of themselves.
I am all for the increase in apprenticeships and the like, as I do not believe you need a degree to succeed in all fields, but equally I don’t like to feel people’s choices may be limited by finances or that we may be missing out on possibly some of the most talented achieving all they could. I long for a return to the days of free higher education for all really. I don’t see it happening, but I can dream can’t I?!
And as a brief aside, but still on the topic of social mobility and education, last nights Question Time discussion of Grammar Schools got a few of us chatting on twitter. I do not like a system that labels a child a success or failure at 11. My daughters CATs scores led her teacher to tell me she wouldn’t pass any GCSEs. It’s a good job they didn’t tell her that, as she may have given up, as it is she passed 12. Children vary a lot in their development and have a huge ability for change beyond that age. She went to a great comprehensive that was able to tailor her education for each improvement or drop, ensuring she was being taught at the correct level for her at each step. I am not anti-streaming, I think that can help everyone, but making children feel they can’t succeed at 11 is surely a bad thing.
I don’t even believe it truly helps as a medium of social mobility. The grammars that still exist gain good results (because they have bright kids at them, obvs) and therefore their catchment areas are increasingly out of the price range of many, not to mention that many better off parents pay for their children to be tutored for the exam, some over several years, whereas others have far littler preparation. Money buys you an advantage in life, I wish it didn’t, but I think we need to unpick society a great deal before that changes sadly.
Love Miss Cisco XXX