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The last 20 years have seen a significant change to the funding of British higher education. Rather than the State covering the cost the burden has been passed to the university student. The cost being covered by students has risen significantly. By the end of a typical 3 year course it is perfectly possible for a graduate to be in debt to the tune of £50,000 or more. Any student now considering doing a degree needs to be sure that the financial benefits over their lifetime will still outweigh the costs. There are obviously a series of non-financial benefits that also accrue by studying at a further education level but it is really down to the student to decide which of these, if any, they value.

University Infographic

Our infographic is designed to show:

  1. What the costs are of going to university
  2. How weekly costs differ around the country – including living costs and the cost of having a social life
  3. What the financial and non-financial benefits are of gaining a degree.

Costs vs. Benefits of University

With the student bearing all the burden it has become much less straightforward to justify the investment of £50,000+ and 3 years in a further education to degree level. Clearly the choice of subject and university are more important then ever. What is the point of studying a subject if the achievement of a degree confers little financial advantage over someone who has not? And the institutions that offer degrees are having to weed out poor courses and poor lecturers so that the students get full value for money.

Funding Education – The Bigger Question

However, the bigger question might be this – if the UK wants to remain a fully competitive nation then surely it needs to breed the talent it requires to run its businesses, conduct its scientific research and provide a fully developed cultural life? If it does then the nation/government needs to bear some of this cost centrally and put less financial pressure on students. As Oscar Wilde might have put it “A Chancellor of the Exchequer is a person who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”. By loading the cost of the system more and more onto students the government may well feel it is making things more transparent but at the same time it demonstrates that it does not understand the true value of graduates to the nation’s economy and cultural life.

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