University – the time of your life for many, yet the location where you rack up a huge debt too. A recent survey suggested that the majority of students felt courses didn’t offer good value for money. And this is just the start. Recently, news has centered around high-profile cases of vice-chancellors being paid extortionate amounts – while students are having to stump up huge amounts to merely complete a degree. Our recent findings regarding a study of 64 Universities collecting huge library fines are the latest revelations in the education sector. There are countless reasons why student’s are disgruntled. Now appears to be a tougher time than ever to be a student.
Education is at an all-time high for cost. Tuition fees are north of £9,000 a year now, living costs are constantly rising, and then there is the price of additional materials e.g. printing, textbooks, and of course library fines! It is the norm for students to come out of University with around £50,000 in debt. So this is bad enough, but then there is the overwhelming feeling for students that they aren’t getting value for money from their course. It is also a tough graduate job market out there.
It is then annoying when as a student you are having to pay thousands for your tuition fee – which doesn’t really include much – and then see stories emanate from your institution regarding a vice-chancellor drawing over £400k a year. Recent cases at Bath, Sussex and Southampton have evoked furious responses. Library fines continue to be huge – and most of the time, we don’t even know where the money goes. Out of the 59 institutions that still levy fines, only one donated a small amount to charity. St. Andrews donated around £1,000. A small amount yes, but at least University isn’t purely about greed for them. The rest pocketed the fines, and in many cases, no one knows what it is spent on.
So it is frustrating for students – a record cost for education, and ostensible greed surrounding them. Here’s an example from the University of Reading – who ranked 11th on our list for spend per student on library fines. Students spent hugely on library fines. Yet for a considerable amount of the year, the students had to go to another building, with the old library under renovation. Yet instead of being planned properly, during exam season, construction work on developing the old library continued, causing mass disruption. This after students spent thousands on getting an education. No wonder students are disgruntled. The case seen at this University is just one example of where student’s are not being put first.
Students have every right to feel disgruntled and disappointed. University may be full of fun experiences, but clearly there is very little respect being afforded to them. They aren’t being put first, with the library fines example the classic example of excessive greed. Yet when you look at the wider picture, it is clear that other problems are apparent. As we’ve mentioned before, we should be encouraging students to become our future leaders – this is hard to achieve given the current state of play.