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11th February 2004
Tuition fee (lack of) debate

Before I start: I'm a student and recognise that I'm probably as bad as everyone else as far as some of things I might mention are concerned, but I still feel the need to complain about them!

Why is it that students, and the student union are automatically against top-up fees without any kind of open debate going on to find out what students really think, and whether they've thought it through at all? From what I understand, students aren't going to struggle as much with money when they're at university, and a wider variety of people would be able to attend.
The biggest problem with the government's plans is that they want more people at university. This will only work if people are being encouraged to go on vocational courses - there are lots of people at uni who put little thought into what they would study at university, and indeed whether they needed to go to uni at all. If it was just those people who actually wanted to go to uni that went, we'd get a nice spread of people from different backgrounds, and we wouldn't have the situation where people go to uni just because all their mates did and end up dropping out, or not using their degree at all after leaving.
And another thing, students complain about money problems all the time - I know there are those who are careful with their money, and budget properly etc, but if you go on just one fairly big night out per week you will spend over 1,000 in a year - most students seem to be able to happily afford that, as well as the CDs, DVDs etc that they can buy. Students seem to expect an nice easy life - why should university be like that? This is supposed to be what prepares us for the 'real world'! People complain if they have three or four 9:15 starts in a week - if you had a job you'd probably be starting at 9am 5 days a week every week, without a massive holiday over the summer! Surely it's about time students started taking some responsibility, and putting some effort in - the apathy is there for all to see when it comes to Student Union elections and that kind of thing.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is why should the government pay for students to sit about, get drunk and do a degree they don't really care about and won't use? If university is about education (which in theory it should be), then let it be about education and make students learn how to handle their money - they can't be that worried about future debt at the moment if they spend such a large amount on alcohol and other luxuries! I want to make it clear that I don't tar every student with the same brush, but there are plenty out there who fall into the descriptions I've given above. I also feel that I'm reasonably qualified to say all this, being a student myself, and having fallen into many of the attitudes I've just been so critical of!
Anyway, enough of this. If you have any comments on this, email me at comments@gptucker.net and I might put your comments up here if I like them (even if I don't agree with them).