Higher Education Fees in the UK
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Student fees in the United Kingdom have increased tremendously over the years. The gradual increase in fees has made UK higher education more expensive. Increased student fees arose from continued government proposals, to raise the figures further. This has led to the emergence of diverse views both in support and against the high student fees. Proponents assert that increased fees would facilitate learning opportunities for the poor. It would promote investments in education institutions, and it would ease taxpayers’ expenditure on funding education. On the other hand, opponents claim that increased fees would compromise the quality of education. In addition, they claim that it would negatively affect students from the middle class families. All these cases have led to increased debate over the escalating higher education fees in the UK.
This paper explicates the cases for and against increasing higher education fees in the UK and the effect on the economy.
Increased fees would help students from poor backgrounds access higher education. Students from rich backgrounds would be in a better position, to raise the fees compared to poor students. Hayto & Paczuska (2002, P 100) reports that poor students would be covered with fees paid by richer students. The extra amounts arising out of the total fees collected by educational institutions would be forwarded to fund poor students both in the provision of basic need and tuition fees. The contribution by richer students is vital in ensuring that every student with a promising future accesses education. In addition, problems related to wasted brains would be eliminated as the poor access education. Institutions providing higher education would be more balanced in matters relating to class, as education is accessed individuals from diverse backgrounds. This will facilitate an increase in the number of literate individuals because everyone’s welfare is catered for. Thus, the UK government would be in a better position, to ensure that all students’ access education and none is left behind because of the failure to meet the required fees. The provision of education to poor students would see them liberate their families from poverty to better living standards as they get to the job market. According to Johnes & Johnes (2004, P 112) education for all would promote equality among all the youth regardless of their family backgrounds. Increasing higher education fees is the only way to raise the prospects of poor students advancing their education and reaching their desired goals.
It is the only way to increase investments in the education sector by the higher education institutions. Increasing fees would raise more revenue to educational institutions. Educational institutions rely on the fees paid by students, to develop infrastructure and enhance educational research. The increased fees would provide a larger financial base for the institutions and would make it easier for them to invest in the provision of better education. Institutions would be able to advance technologically. According to Accounts (2008, P 110) higher education would only be meaningful if students learn in an environment where they access what they need. The tremendous rise in fees would be the only way to ensure educational institutions do not suffer from financial difficulties but make significant improvements as they deem. It would mean that students all over the UK have better and modern learning facilities. Higher education institutions would not have to rely on loans, which attract high interests on repayment. They would develop using the funds that are raised by students hence no need to pay interest. It is the only way of securing educational institutions in their efforts to provide education with modern facilities. They would be in a better position, to change and keep up with the continuous changes in the educational sector. In addition, they would be able to compete with other internationally recognized institutions. This will lead to more applications from international students. Everyone would be attracted to join the highly competitive institutions in the UK. Fees need to be increased to raise the levels of investments in the educational sector by institutions.
Citizens would be taxed lesser amounts in relation to education funding. Increasing the amount of fees would mean that taxpayers are relieved of the high amounts they have to contribute towards funding higher education. Students would provide the funds required by their institutions hence no need to overtax individuals. Taxpayers would be in a better position, to increase their savings because of the reduced tax burden. Committee (2007, P 133) observes that they would be contributing lesser amounts towards the loans incurred by students in the course of pursuing higher education. This means that those who earn less would be better positioned as they can easily save and make personal investments. Individual students would bear the fees without straining taxpayers. According to Accounts (2008, P 122) educational institutions would rely on funds that they are sure about their inflows instead of depending on taxpayers’ funds, which could not be reliable in the long run. The ease on taxpayers would be vital in reducing the level of resistance to higher education in the UK.
Opponents claim that fee increments would negatively affect students from the middleclass families. The increased fees would hurt families that are perceived to be at the middleclass level in the UK. This is because the rich students would find it easier to pay the amounts assisted by their wealthy parents. In addition, poor students would be shielded by the funds provides by the rich students. McNay (2006, P 100) intimates that students from middleclass families with average incomes would find it difficult t raise the required fees because of the lack of shielding effects. This could lead to some of them dropping out of school because of the inability to raise the fees required in the institutions. They would not be in a position, to access better living standards because of the high amounts of fees required to keep them in schools. This will see families in the middleclass being pushed into poverty. There would be increased imbalance in the access to quality education as most middleclass students opt to drop out and seek education at institutions that charge lesser fees. Increased fees would mean suffering among the middleclass hence not desirable. It leads to increased levels of poverty in the UK.
The increased fees would compromise quality standards in education. The quality of the education offered by higher institutions would likely go down because of the increased focus on the fees. They would be keener on raising high amounts of money from students instead of providing education. According to Brown (2004, P 120) students would only be allowed to attend classes after payment of the required amounts. This means that students who fail to comply with the fees requirements would always be sent out of class until they complete the amounts outstanding. Educational institutions would gradually transform into financial institutions aimed at generating income instead of encouraging educational promotion. Increased fees would also lead to rise of class in educational institutions, as students who are unable to raise the required fees are intimidated making them unable to concentrate. This means that they would not be able to deliver their best in academics. They would be forced to deal with intimidating elements instead of concentrating on schoolwork. In addition, educational institutions would accommodate individuals according to their financial abilities and not academic abilities. This would compromise the standards of education as the brighter students without the ability to fund their education are segregated. Increased fees are thus undesirable because it would lead to a decline in UK’s educational standards.
The fee increment would have various effects on the economy. For instance, it would lead to a rise in the level of poverty. With the increased fees, middleclass parents would have to spend more on educating their children hence running out of resources. Johnes & Johnes (2004, P 200) assert that the economy would be retarded by their reduced contribution in its growth. The overall effect of the decline in middleclass individuals would be poor living conditions in the economy. On the positive side, the economy would be boosted as the poor students’ access education courtesy of richer students. It is likely to lead to a better economy as illiteracy is eliminated. This means more individuals would be able to contribute to economic growth after being employed.
In conclusion, an increase in higher education fees came into place after the government passed a proposal on amending higher education fees. The increment led to the emergence of views both in support and against the move to increase higher education fees. Those in support for the increase claim that it would help poor students’ access education because richer students cover them. In addition, they hold that it would lead to a reduction in taxes because taxpayers would be charged a lesser amount to contribute towards education. They assert that the increment would lead to increased investments by the institutions. This will ensure that UK institutions rank among the world’s best. Those against the increment assert that middleclass parents would be negatively affected, as they would be required to spend more. There is nobody to cover them. This would lead to increased levels of poverty. Increments would compromise the education standards in the UK as the focus shifts towards money instead of education. The overall effects of this are that there could be increased poverty in the economy as middleclass parents grapple to provide for their children.
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