I’ve seen a lot of stories today about the monetary impact of higher education. Here’s a selection:
- A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times shows 56% of respondents saying that university is not worth £9,000 a year in tuition fees.
- A survey for VoucherCodes.co.uk suggests that nearly one in ten parents (9% of the 1,400 asked) plan to re-mortgage their house to cover the cost of their children at university.
- Graduate Fog suggests that many students and unpaid interns will “have no choice but to live at home and accept hand-outs from their parents“.
Nevertheless, now is not the time to panic.
You can’t put a specific or accurate value on education. Tuition fees and the costs associated with a degree aren’t the same as the value of HE. Some people don’t think university is worth even £3k a year in tuition fees, yet they still place huge value on it.
Alan Roberts sums the situation up quite nicely:
As for parents, that’s a strange one. Parents should not need to re-mortgage in order to cover costs. For more information on why it’s not necessary, check out MoneySavingExpert’s “20 key facts on fees, loans & grants everyone should know“.
MoneySavingExpert also has a useful new calculator for student loans from 2012, so you can see how much you might repay.
If parents are able to offer more money, there’s no need to be embarrassed. I still hear some people say they are ‘not a charity’ and don’t want to look like they’re ‘on the scrounge’. But this has nothing to do with charity or scrounging. Consider that means testing can result in you getting less money if your parents are high earners. It’s as if expectation is built in that parents should be able to help.
[Edit: Just as I published this post, I got an email from CrossCountry Trains with another study of 1,500 parents and 500 graduates. They found that parents loan their children on average £6,568 during the three year course to cover rent, bills books and clothing. One in five parents claim to give their children more than £12,000.]
Extra money can be useful, even if you don’t need it. And if you do, what better place to start than those who love you? Especially if they want to support you and do have the resources to do so! However, there’s another other side to the issue. One person commenting on Graduate Fog said:
“I know I have an advantage over many people because my parents have been so supportive, and I don’t like that – I would like to be able to feel I am succeeding on my own terms rather than as a result of economic backing others won’t have access to.”
I’ve talked at length that students don’t always win as consumers. It’s practically impossible to get away from money issues, especially under a ‘consumer’ guise. It is important to focus on individual circumstances as well as general money matters, which is why surveys cannot paint the full picture. Surveys and polls have their place, but don’t panic about them in isolation. By all means debate, explore, carefully consider options and make decisions relevant to you. But please don’t panic.