BBC News – Universities not providing value for money

BBC News – Universities not providing value for money

As was widely predicted when tuition fees were introduced, and particularly when they were raised to £9,000 a year, students are now questioning the value for money they are receiving from their providers.  When I was lucky enough to go to university, I was the last year of grants, so they had reduced the amount to just cover rent, and we were therefore the first to need loans to pay for food.  Leaving my ten-year adventure with the Student Loans Company to one side for now, my tuition was free.  Well, I assume someone paid for it, probably my Council paid the University direct, but I never saw it happen.  So I was one of the last who was able to go to university purely for the joy of it. I didn’t worry about finding a job, after all this was the 90s, there were lots of jobs out there.  Therefore, I wasn’t too concerned with my final grade. I wasn’t doing a vocational course, such as law or medicine, where the mark really mattered all that much, so I was able to just enjoy learning and studying, ‘finding myself’ and meeting new people, many of whose paths I would never otherwise have crossed.  It was an enriching experience, without being an impoverishing one at the same time.  

Now, it seems that, with jobs in short supply, grades matter much more. Students are going to university expecting to work, not just sit in the pub.  They need good qualifications and high marks in order to survive in the world afterwards.  So the fact that, in return for £9,000 a year – or £40,000 for a four year course – you get, it appears, a mere 10 minutes more with your lecturers than before, seems grossly disproportionate and unfair.  Now that your student is your consumer, they can expect value for money, and if they’re not getting it, we need to investigate why.  This is a very important survey and I will be watching to see how the Government and HE providers react to its results.

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