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Viewpoint: Affordable education

Having completed my second year at City University, I am in a fortunate position where the sharp tuition fee increases will not affect me.

But I frequently reflect on how they would have influenced my career so far if they did.

I chose to study at City primarily for the fact that the civil engineering department had excellent links with industry boosted by the statistic that City is ranked top in the top 10 of UK universities for graduate employability and starting salaries.

Do I go to university and come out with a debt I would be paying back for the majority of my working life? Will all the hard work and studying see a return in my future career enough to warrant this debt?

But I very quickly realised studying in London comes at a price. Commuting from my home in Kent to cut costs and funding day to day expenses was still something that weighed heavily on my mind.

Funding my studies entirely with student loans for both tuition fees and living costs at the age of 18 meant I had some very daunting decisions to make. Do I go to university, pursue my visions and come out
with a debt I would be paying back for the majority of my working life?

Will all the hard work and studying see a return in my future career enough to warrant this debt?

The pros and cons swung in favour of biting the bullet and going to university but had I been faced with tuition fess almost three times the amount I am paying, this substantial con would have outweighed all my pros.

The first thought that crosses my mind is how many intelligent, enthusiastic young people like myself will the industry miss out on because university is no longer an option? And what other options do we have for young people?

“University should be stripped of those students who just go for the three year jolly to avoid getting a job”

When I was making my choices I only really had two. Either go off to university or try and find a job that would allow me to train and progress along the career ladder.

With the latter becoming ever more difficult given the current employment market, where will the influx of young people without degrees fit in the scheme of things?

However, I am of the view that the number of people that attend university should be reduced.

It should be stripped of those students who just go for the three year jolly to avoid getting a job and who make our lectures larger and more distracting and the increased tuition fee should, in theory, discourage such students.

But stripping the numbers back so far as to allow only those fortunate enough to not have money as a big issue in their decisions, will undoubtedly have negative an effect on all British professions in the long term.

  • Beth Shrubsall is an MEng civil engineering student at London City University and the recipient of the Caterpillar Scholarship for promising engineering students. She is on an industrial placement with Jackson Civil Engineering this year and last week addressed 300 guests and the Lord Mayor of London at the university’s annual Chancellor’s dinner.

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