The Pricing of University Tuition in UK

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The Pricing of University Tuition in UK

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Introduction

Many questions have been raised regarding how tuition fee charged on higher education in United Kingdom (UK) has influenced the need and value for bachelor degree for over forty years. The puzzle started in the early 1960s but up to date has remained a thorny issue in both the government regimes. From the early 1960s, the country has transformed from a situation where the citizens paid the entire fee for the higher education to a more systematic approach where graduates pay part of the education fee. The new process was nicknamed or called ‘cost sharing’ since the students were to foot some of the costs of their education. However, the so called cost sharing has continuously led to various controversy in many aspects more so is the fear that it could lead to lower participation especially  among the people with low income or the poverty ridden citizens (Blanden & Machin, 2004).

Change in the Tuition Fees

There are two distinct levels of tuition fee in UK public universities that are the home students and foreign or international students’ fee. For the home students, the fees charged is up to a maximum of £9,000 per year for undergraduate courses and the institutions falling in these categories in universities from England and Wales. The fee varies from one country to another, for example, in Northern Ireland the undergraduate fee is around £3,575 per year. In some part of the UK particularly in Scotland, education is effectively free of charge and this has been made viable through the Students Awards Agency for Scotland.

The recent move by the government to announce that the tuition fee cap which is currently at £3,300 a year to be raised upward to £9,000 a year has led to a lot of an uproar and is facing stiff opposition  from various quarters including the national union of students, media and, parents association. The issue led to the mass strike by the parents of the students who went to the street to demonstrate against what they terms as an unjustified increment. It should be noted that the tuition fee was first introduced by the labour government in the late 1990s and were paid upfront according to the parents’ income availability and the maximum was to be £1,000 per year (Dearden, Fitzsimons, & Wyness, 2013). This further led to subsequent abolition of grants in the 1990s and what followed was the introduction of maintenance loans.

Subsequent reforms have made the education fee reduce, for example, the 2006 reform show upfront fees abolished and were replaced by a deferred £3,000 fee that was to be paid by all the students regardless of their parental income or background. However, the fee was to be fully covered with the fee loan that has a more a fordable terms and conditions. The loan given to the students was interest free and was to be paid after graduation at the rate of nine percent of the graduates earning when the earnings is £15,000. The loans given to the students ware to be written off after twenty five years and the students were not liable after that period. The year 2004 show an increase in the grants given to the students and a further extension of the maintenance loans in the same year. It is quite interesting that, despite the heated debate that has revolved around the tuition fee, there has been very little investigation on how   of tuition fee influence the success of higher education in UK. The available research information on higher education finance and participation starting from 1992 to 2007 highlights many reforms in the higher education sector as illustrated by Barr (1993).

Effect of Increase Tuition Fee

Increased tuition fee have a significance impact on the value and participation on higher learning education. The increased fee has negatively affected the students from the poor backgrounds who cannot afford to fully support their education. The government efforts to introduce loans and grand has not done much to improve the situation, however, some critics  argue that the negative effects can be solved by the increased loans and grants the government gives to the students. The government intention was to encourage the young students to pursue higher education through introduction of grants and maintenance loans have partially solve the problem, however, lot need to be done to effect make the higher education affordable to all.

The tuition fees have an important consequent in the overall education performance and participation. The tuition fees affect the distribution of education opportunities and can lead to a reduction in the net benefit of the education especially in the higher learning institutions. This can subsequently lead to lower enrollment of the youths who want to acquire higher education. The fees particularly when they are on the rise would discourage many students largely from the poor backgrounds from enrolling for undergraduate courses (Blanden & Machin, 2004). Increased fees can also result into a reduction in attendance among the students facing credit constraints and who find themselves unable to finance their attendance at the institutions of higher learning despite high net benefits.

The fact that tuition fees are regulated by the government does not necessary mean that higher education has been made unreachable for the poor. In some case, the higher educations institutions have been forced to increased or adjust their fees to cope with the overwhelming demand if students who want to attain higher education. The principle behind this can be to put in place facilities that accommodate learning program. For example, the recent fee increase in British Colombia has been viewed as a response to the increased number of students who want to get higher education.

The rise in fees has led to declining in the number of course applied by the students per year. Many of the competitive course applicants have gradually reduced in number. The competitive courses like medicine, engineering, architecture and, accounting have been severely hit by the introduction of higher fees. The drop was inevitably largest among the students taking English who was to pay the top fees in every part of the UK they took their studies. Many students from the poor background say that those courses are left for the chosen few privileged members of the society who can afford to pay the exorbitant fee needed for a student to enroll for such course (Blanden & Machin, 2004). The majorities of the students are either left with the option of choosing the less lucrative courses or forgo it at all. Many students decided not to go for fear of being indebted to the university. This effect has a negative effect on the education sector in the country and is viewed as a missed chance for many students who aspire to be graduates.

The increased undergraduate fee has forced many students to opt for the traditional route of the three –year university degree course. This they say would save them a considerable amount of time required to finish an undergraduate course and give them time to look for employment opportunities. The students believe that even though the fee are treble, a three year would facilitate the time covered in perusing their course and this would subsequently lands them to  a better job after the university.

The increased fee in the higher institution of learning has prompted the government through the ministry of education to increase bursaries allocation for the students.  This has positively improved the enrollments in the universities especially in the a.............


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