Thank god I was born in 1978
May 16, 2010
Posted by on
Whenever I see a new story about changes to university tuition fees (i.e., them getting more expensive. It's never the other way round), I always try to apply the new proposals to my own circumstances when I went to Nottingham in 1996. It's a very solipsistic attitude, but you have to have a way to cope, don't you? When fees were first brought in I would have been unable to go to Nottingham*, and would have had to go to Leeds instead and live at home. When the repayment threshold was lowered to £15k, I doubt I would have been able to take up my first job in London (starting salary: £16k pa) because I wouldn't have been able to afford to live on such wages minus a massive chunk for fees.
And now, if the suggestions for lowering the repayment threshold still further and upping the interest rate are taken on, I doubt I would ever have been able to leave Yorkshire. How would I have been able to afford to get the experience in my chosen field to allow me to get a job in London, never mind pay my way down here? How students from my background (and my parents were hardly on the breadline, probably C2 nudging C1; I got a partial, not full, grant) ever achieve any kind of social or geographical mobility these days is beyond me.
(As an aside: if you didn't know, one of the reasons I am (still) angry about fees is because Ron Dearing was Nottingham's Chancellor while he was writing the, um, Dearing Report, which was published only a couple of months after the union had managed to beat down the university's desire to introduce fees themselves. It didn't matter; Dearing just went ahead and did it nationally. I realise this is a highly simplistic view to take, but it still feels personal.)
* The unspoken acknowledgement here is that I'm sure I could have done all these things had I been willing to take on massive debt or emotionally blackmail my parents into penury. In reality, I would have done neither of these things.