To be slightly more precise, the average university course is three or four years long. Nowadays, considering that the average course tuition fee sits at just over £9000 – that equates to £27,000 for three years, or £36,000 for four.
Seems reasonable right?
Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Sure, in some cases education can cost money, for example, private schools, where those who can afford to send their children with the hopes of improved teaching. However, those who do not have the excess cash to send their children to a better school can send them to state schools funded by the government. That’s nice of the government to fund schools for us, I wonder where they get the money for that from…
I digress though – the point is that, where university is concerned, there is little to no help from the government. Unlike in the past, you have to pay for your tuition.
It seems that now that all students and parents alike say is “well what can you do?” I admit I fell into this category when I travelled to university for the first time, knowing the amount of money it was going to cost me. I had my first year, and for the majority of it, I was receiving the full learning experience promised to me.
That year was cut short by Covid-19, which is currently plunging the world into all sorts of chaos, and as the hysteria of last March/April set in I couldn’t help but think I was owed some form of refund for my tuition. My exams were cancelled, and I had one online lesson for the rest of the year. So, to put it simply, I paid a full year’s tuition for about half a year of actual teaching.
I saw petitions and the like flooding social media calling for a reimbursement of tuition fees – all of these were ignored by the government, who simply said:
“HE (Higher Education) providers must deliver high quality courses.
If students are unhappy they should first complain to their provider and if their concerns are unresolved they can ask OIA to consider their complaint.”
For those unfamiliar with the language of the government this roughly translates to “erm don’t ask us, complain to someone else” a reassuring response to everyone I’m sure.
Half a year of the pandemic highlighted some clear issues. Sitting on a zoom call for an hour with a dodgy connection and lecturers who have had to completely change their teaching style isn’t quite the same as a real lecture in a real university. Which makes you beg the question: why does it cost the same?
Watching the World Cup final at Wembley would cost you a huge sum of money; you pay for the experience and see it with your own eyes. If you asked a football fan to pay the same amount to watch the game on their TV you’d be laughed out of the room. Virtual learning is not a substitute for real learning and the fact that students have no option but to pay for online tutoring, which is clearly of a lesser standard than that which they could be receiving, in my eyes, is criminal.
By no means am I saying students have got it the worst. There are obviously more important things going on. This issue won’t go away though and should not be forgotten. Three separate petitions have each gathered over 250,000 signatures, asking for the government to consider reducing tuition fees in the wake of the pandemic – two of the three have been rejected already, and one is awaiting debate.
I would love to say that I expect the government to act on the clear injustice that students across the country are facing, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. In fact, if we aren’t careful, more of the things we should have the right to do will begin to require a fee. Maybe even a nice breathing fee of £9,000 a year. So, on second thought I would advise holding that breath.