Introduction by Joseph Stashko
John Walker is a former student of UCLan, where he studied interactive digital media. He now runs the multimedia design studio Walker Studios.
Yesterday the University of Central Lancashire announced that they would raise the tuition fees to the maximum amount set by the government from autumn 2012. This sees the cost of a single year at the university rise from just shy of £3,300 to £9,000, an increase of almost 200%.
The Vice-Chancellor of UCLan, Malcolm McVicar, claims that there were only two options, to charge a lesser amount and to deliver a lower grade of education, or to charge the maximum amount of £9,000 and in his own words stay committed to “superlative education that equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experience to be successful global citizens. This is only possible if we replace the lost state funding through fees”.
A few concerns arise from this. Firstly at the time of graduation, my graduating class (2010 )came out with an estimated £27,000 debt each when you take maintenance loans and living costs into consideration. It’s a sizable debt that can only be realistically paid off with a well paid job. The current increase in fees, assuming that living costs stay the same means an average debt of £15,000 per year, meaning that by the end of their second year a student will accumulate an estimated debt of £30,000, working out at £3,000 more by the end of that year than current students will owe when they finish their entire degree.
Overall this means a two thirds increase in the cost of a degree to £45,000. Most would argue that a good degree is worth this and that it’s a small price to pay for the chance at an excellent job and a decent salary, and I would agree with them. However, having paid £27,000 for my degree I am yet to see any sign of this job or salary, and know of very few people even close to achieving it, including people that graduated as top in their course with a 1st Class Degree.
One friend of mine in particular did graduate top of his class along with an impressive portfolio and is currently sitting at just above minimum wage at £6, and it isn’t because he is incapable. I believe ultimately a lack of jobs and increased university fees will see a sharp decline in the amount of people applying for courses, which in turn could lead to further financial instability in the country, and possibly the closure of the university, one of Preston’s largest employers.