When I first heard about the proposed increase to the tuition fees I was outraged, as any student at university would be. But what bothered me more was current students comments that it won’t affect them so why should they bother protesting and fighting against the rises. Why should my younger brother pay two, maybe three times as much as me for the same level and quality of education? Why should he be burdened with over £40,000 of debt before he has even earnt a single penny? How can this be the legacy of a government of 12 years which claimed its three main priorities to be ‘education, education, education’?
I took a step back. I looked around the campus, at all the non-European Union students who were rushing around, hurrying to and fro from endless lectures and seminars. What price do they have to pay for the same level of education that I will receive this year? The obvious prices are often overlooked. Changes to language and culture both take their toll. Although it may be a fantastic experience going to a different country, it is still foreign. Birthdays, bank holidays and odd weekends can’t be spent at home with friends and family.
The scale of the monetary difference between European and non-European Union students is staggering. A flat mate of mine, has to pay £12,060 for one year’s tuition fees alone. That excludes the £3,500 plus for accommodation and countless hundreds of pounds on living and travel costs.
Paying such a considerable amount – well over £50,000 for a three year degree, where, in at home there are no tuition fees – goes a long way to explaining the reason why non-European Union students focus heavily on the academic side of university life in comparison to the majority of European Union students, who bear significantly less of the financial burden.
So what about my brother? Why should he pay more? Currently the level of subsidies for my University education is 75% compared to a non-European Union student. By the time he reaches the crunch time of A-level results day, it looks likely that the level will drop to between 25% – 40%. However, the free higher education that some non-European Union students leave behind shows the value and prestige a degree from a British university has.
So should we be as outraged as we first felt when seeing the proposed measures? When students are willing to move half way around the world, change their lifestyle, adapt to a new culture and financially pay significantly more for the same education we almost demand and take for granted? I know when my brother says to me ‘I shouldn’t be paying so much for my degree’, I won’t disagree; I’ll turn his head to those friends of his who don’t have any subsidies to make him see the full, not just monetary price, he could be paying for his degree.