Coventry University Students’ Union president Rob Wilson claims ‘university is still the way forward’ for young adults despite Lord Browne’s Report on funding higher education calling for the removal of a tuition fee cap.
There are now recommendations for the coalition government to scrap the £3,290 tuition fee and allow English universities to charge what they want, raise interest rates on student loans and to remove state funding for teaching costs.
Despite these proposals raising fears about un-payable amounts of debt, which could amount to £20,000 of fees from tuition alone, Wilson has called for calm.
“At the moment the review’s not been accepted” he reminded. “There will be lots of campaigning and battles to be fought before that will go through parliament. So I would definitely say university is still the way forward, it’s an excellent opportunity, and I hope the support systems will still be here even if the fees do come in so that students will be supported financially and emotionally.”
Coventry University sent an email to all staff last Wednesday giving its stance on the latest proposals, which included reservations about a £1,000 deficit per student. Writes Adam Manning….
It costs the university around £7,000 on average to teach each student, and with the government withdrawing funding for teaching costs and willing to fund tuition loans of £6,000; the university has misgivings about a potential black hole in funding that will appear.
The email sent on behalf of Coventry University’s communications director Nick Stokes, said: “The Browne Report acknowledges that the average cost of teaching a course is £7k but has recommended that the state-backed fee loan is set at £6k so as to encourage us to be more efficient.
“We would therefore face an immediate funding gap of at least £1k per student. So although student expectations would rise, we would actually have less money to provide the enhanced learning experience they might expect.”
Paying more for fewer services is the harsh reality for students as they expect value for money, and the Coventry University Students’ Union president says the Union is determined to help cushion the blow if the recommendations are put into place after George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review on October 20.
“The removal of the tuition fee cap could be huge but one of the biggest issues we’ll face is managing expectations” Wilson claimed.
“Our job is to make sure that whatever money there is, it’s channeled into the right places such as teaching and learning. Making sure that whatever money we’ve got is spent on what students’ need, as there will be fewer resources, especially if students are paying more then they’ll be demanding more.”
He added: “We have our own Money Doctors to get students in early to talk about their budgeting and financial situation before they get into difficulty, because there’s no doubt that the number of students dropping out for financial reasons will increase as the fees rise.”
Asked if he thinks a fee of £6,000 justifies the value of a course at Coventry University, Wilson, who is in his first year as SU president, argued: “What’s difficult is why you’re being educated in the first place – it’s not about getting a better job.”
For more information on the Money Doctors and financial advice – visit http://www.cusu.org/advice/content/215365/money_doctors/ .