back to article Y'know how everyone hated it when tuition fees went up? Cutting them now could harm science, say UK Lords

Funding for scientific research could be in jeopardy if the UK government implements plans to cap tuition fees, peers have warned. The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report into higher education funding said the government should make up the shortfall if it cuts the maximum tuition fees to £7,500 per year from …

  1. DavCrav Silver badge

    "Y'know how everyone hated it when tuition fees went up? Cutting them now could harm science, say UK Lords"

    What people get confused by is the behind-the-scenes stuff. Tuition fees did not go up, they stayed roughly the same. It's just that the burden of them, which fell 2-to-1 on the taxpayer, shifted to all on the student. (So £3k to £9k.) The universities received some extra cash, but only if they spent it on help for the disadvantaged. This is of course worthy, but was originally done by government in terms of tuition waivers and maintenance grants. So universities got a little extra but not so much. They are now saying that you can shift the burden between the taxpayer and the student however you want, but if you reduce the income by 15% without any compensation elsewhere then there will have to be mass redundancies and bankruptcies.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Though there is scope for savings

      Plenty of people at dean and above level on silly money.

      Whilst the T&Cs of those at the coalface have got worse (in many areas of academia morale is very low & many staff are throwing in the towel), VCs etc. getting huge money for making often very poor decisions

      Some universities have good upper management, unfortunately lots do not.

      1. Long John Silver
        Pirate

        Re: Though there is scope for savings

        At least one UK university has restyled its vice chancellor as 'President' according US practice.

        Not only does that indicate concern over window dressing rather than substance but also it confirms transition to a business model inimical to academic values of yesteryear.

        Incidentally, the same institution some while ago declared a policy of hiring Nobel laureates. Its leadership was, and likely remains, clueless about where malaise resides and how to address it; unfortunately the quality of leadership over many years is a major part of the problem.

      2. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Though there is scope for savings

        "Some universities have good upper management, unfortunately lots do not."

        I'm not sure I agree with you there. I don't know of enough universities with good senior management to use the word 'some'.

    2. Not Enough Coffee

      Yeah, I read "the government should make up the shortfall" and immediately thought he should have said what he meant - "the taxpayer should make up the shortfall".

  2. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Wrong perspective.

    What sort of graduates will you need in post-brexit Britain?

    Make sure people can afford to become those graduates.

    Only math you need, really.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bah!

      You'll only need a degree to emigrate. The proles will not be permitted any education, that might cause them to get angry with the generation who denied them an equal future.

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        This can be incentivised too. Say by giving a full grant in exchange for 10 years paid service at Her Majesty's direction.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bah!

        "The proles will not be permitted any education, that might cause them to get angry with the generation who denied them an equal future."

        Equal to what? I assume you're too young to have heard the empty promises that the European Common Market was only to make trade fair and equitable throughout Europe, and would never, no not ever, lead in any way to any attempts to impose centralised rule on the individual nations. Function creep writ large, except in the eyes of those who choose not to see.

        And if you want to get angry with anyone, start with the Remainers who seem to think that "one person, one vote" only applies to those who voted Leave - Remainers obviously should get more. The nation voted Leave - by a narrow margin, but we voted Leave. Except now some people think that Politicians should get as many votes as they want on it (as long as it hinders Brexit), and people like Gina Miller think it fair to use the British Legal system to overturn lawful votes as well.

        Precedent is a dangerous thing - now Miller has successfully got the courts to intervene in the political process, there is little to stop other people with a lot of money paying lawyers to get involved too. Which, for anyone who thinks it's only the Tories with rich backers, should be making those people very, very nervous...

    2. Persona Bronze badge

      Re: Bah!

      Maths is far from the only skill needed. Personally I have used very little of the maths I did at uni. The exotic things I learnt such as "Greens triple integration around a closed space" have gone unused ….. possibly because though I knew how to do it at the time, I never found out why one would need to do that in the first place.

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        You misread my post.

        1. Persona Bronze badge

          Re: Bah!

          ????? I don't think so.

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Bah!

            He wasn't saying that Math [sic] is the only subject needed...

          2. STOP_FORTH

            Re: Bah!

            Yes, you did.

      2. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Bah!

        I gave up the Maths when they started talking about imaginary numbers. Can I see the invisible pink Unicorn if I rotate it through 90 degrees?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bah!

          i.

          1. Dr_N Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Bah!

            No. j.

            1. illuminatus

              Re: Bah!

              Pah. Engineering arriviste! ;)

        2. not.known@this.address Bronze badge
          Boffin

          Re: Bah!

          It depends which dimension those 90 degrees are in, and whether your current quantum state lets you access those flavors.

          (Goggles because that Unicorn might be a Boojum too... and that is something you do *not* want to see coming!)

      3. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        "The exotic things I learnt such as "Greens triple integration around a closed space" have gone unused ….. possibly because though I knew how to do it at the time, I never found out why one would need to do that in the first place."

        Guess you don't work in fluid mechanics.

        1. Persona Bronze badge

          Re: Bah!

          Nope My fluid dynamics didn't extend past Bernoulli. My career path was, semiconductor research, process control, robotics, 3D graphics, security. Definitely no fluid dynamics, or anything where Maxwell's equations need to be applied. Plenty of matrix multiplication maths though, but that was covered at school pre A level!

          1. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: Bah!

            I did quite a bit of semiconductor work which required some silly maths, Mostly above and beyond the three years I did in my Electrical and Electronics degree. I find now researching AI and big data I get to use some of that and more, And, to be fair, its all fucking matrices now. Probably always has been.

    3. Long John Silver

      Re: Bah!

      There is no need to worry. Come 'no deal' Brexit the UK's entire education system, from top to bottom, will be fully privatised and sold to US interests.

      In a generation there will be nobody to notice plummeting literacy, numeracy, reasoning skills, and capacity for independent thought. Not that it shall be difficult to transition to full idiocracy because foundations are well entrenched. Hardly a soul will notice adoption of American broken English speech and kindergarten level spelling.

      Our universities, hollow shells of what they were before polytechnics were 'promoted', will be packed with 'snowflakes' too scared to face intellectual challenge. They will become 'safe places' for biding time between childhood and adult servitude. There shall not be a urinal to be found; however multi-'gender' (God alone knows how many by then) 'wash-rooms' will be magnificent.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Post BREXIT

        There is no need to worry. Come 'no deal' Brexit the UK's entire education system, from top to bottom, will be fully privatised and sold to US interests.

        Totally agree

        Graduates will leave with a bit of paper that most will find only qualifies them to work at places like KFC and Burger King.

        They'll also have $200,000 of personal debt that will need to be paid off. (We stopped using the £££ and switched to the USD when Trump got a second term)

        STEM grads will see that debt double.

        Welcome to US rule. Boris was born in New York so it is here already.

      2. Kernel Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        "In a generation there will be nobody to notice plummeting literacy"

        Given some of the responses to the line in the OP regarding math, I suspect that ship has not only sailed, but is now just a smudge of smoke on a distant horizon.

      3. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        If that's what they (have) become, selling them to the yanks seems like a plan.

        I'd be curious to know how the EU is currently blocking that sale at the moment.

      4. M.V. Lipvig

        Re: Bah!

        Are you saying that Brits, as a people are idiotic morons who are incapable of sentient thought unless guided to sentience by their EU masters? Wow, just wow.

    4. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      What sort of graduates will you need in post-brexit Britain?

      If you want the economy to be strong, STEM subjects are a must. It's ridiculously short-sighted to suggest that the cost of these should be shouldered by the students alone, especially since this has the effect of precluding, or at the least scaring off, students from lower income backgrounds. Once people graduate, teh increased income they will earn will more thna make up the difference in tax dividends.

      If you want society to be healthy, you need the other subjects as well. Again, it's short-sighted to not pay for them from general taxation.

      The problem we have now is that the previous government got a dividend from passing on the cost to the students, and to now go back to fully funding students (as they should) would incur that cost in the current budget (with the benefits being in a future one). It's this sort of short-termism (mostly by the Tory government, but the Blairite Labour government is also to blame) that has screwed our country over...

      Only math you need, really.

      In this country, we call it maths, or more properly, mathematics. It's a broad field, encompassing multiple concepts, so it's a plural. What's next? Calling physics physic?

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        There's already a problem recruiting enough STEM teachers to ensure there are high quality school courses that will equip prospective undergraduates to succeed at University. Hence STEM graduates are being offered bursaries for the PGCE courses they would otherwise have to pay for too. There's even less financial incentive to go into research - which is why we depend heavily on EU citizens. None of this is going to be solved by tinkering with fees.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Bah!

          I returned to Uni a year or so after I graduated. I bumped into my old tutor in the bar and the look on his face when he discovered I was already earning more than he was was a sight to behold. Which was a fucking tragedy as he was damn good at teaching. He could lecture to 60 kids 3 times a week and three years later generate more tax in a month than he was paid in a year.

      2. Paul Kinsler

        Re: Calling physics physic?

        Well, if it was good enough [1] for Shakespeare:

        Macbeth: "Throw physic to the dogs, I'll none of it. Come, put mine armor on. Give me my staff."

        .

        [1] Might not be the same "physic", though :-)

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Calling physics physic?

          Physic is medicine.

          At the time it wasn't very effective, often better to have a beer than visit a doctor.

      3. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        "In this country, we call it maths, or more properly, mathematics. It's a broad field, encompassing multiple concepts, so it's a plural. What's next? Calling physics physic?"

        Well, that leaves a lot of room for discussion. For example, "maths" makes sense because there are lots of different types of mathematical units, but there isn't really a problem with a singular noun describing a group of things that fall into one category, so that gives "math" a way in. For example, we refer to "the sciences", clearly plural, but many of those sciences are singular. Although there are lots of pretty different aspects of chemistry and biology, I don't think anyone says "chemistries" or "biologies". Similarly, the courses that teach students what happened in the past are typically referred to as "history", even though it is simple to realize that there are a lot of them and therefore "histories" has some logic. I also think the plural approach has some logic, as well.

        In context, maybe "math" is more appropriate than you give it credit for. While the subject in general includes lots of types of maths (though as I'm writing this I am wondering whether we can say something like "Algebra is a math" to refer to one of the elements in the set of maths), the original point gave a specific algorithm for calculating the value of something. Not by any means necessarily correct, but a single algorithm nonetheless which did not involve multiple branches of mathematics. In that respect, you could argue that it only involved one part of maths, and therefore only one math.

      4. Electronics'R'Us
        Holmes

        Re: Bah!

        I agree STEM subjects are a must, but I challenge the notion that a degree is the best way to get the right people with the right skills.

        I left school aged 15 (yes, it was legal then which rather gives away my age group) and for various reasons I never went to university.*

        My career path has included fixing electronic equipment to designing it (I have been a design authority for safety critical avionics as an example) and being part of standards bodies (I have my name on a couple); I have done a lot of software and a lot of electronics over the last five decades (and still am, for that matter). I call it a self-guided apprenticeship where I took opportunities when they presented themselves (and I actively searched for them).

        I also am a chartered engineer (the IET care about ability and continuously increasing responsibilities) so I am proof it can be done.

        There is a place for both those who take the degree path and those who choose paths less travelled; it gives different perspectives to say nothing of hard won experience with the realities of modern circuitry (informed from the realities of old circuitry although many of the ways we did PCBs would not be appropriate today - you have to stay on top of the game).

        My experience after mentoring some dozens of interns and new grads is that there are huge holes in their education, not least in communicating with others effectively so I would like to see at least some of the humanities be a required part of any degree, including STEM. There are also huge holes in their technical knowledge (to be expected really for some things but many universities have an unhealthy view that analogue doesn't exist - it does and its practitioners are in high demand).

        I could support taxpayer funded education on the same basis that some employers fund it - the beneficiaries are required to work within the UK for a minimum amount of time within their specialist field or they have to repay the cost of the degree (on a sliding scale would be fairest). That would rather quickly nobble the 'toy' degrees (I once saw someone on a quiz show who was doing a PhD on Marlon Brando films; WTF?)

        So yes, STEM is essential but so are some humanities; these are complementary and not opposites.

        *I did not have any academic qualifications when I left school although I did pick up some O levels along the way.

        *The stuff I routinely do today bears little resemblance to the degrees of those times although (as I like to tell those who think it is all irrelevant) that we have not yet repealed Ohm's Law. Interestingly, many of the techniques and capabilities we take for granted today would have been laughed out as being impossible at the time.

        1. tfewster Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Bah!

          A degree course doesn't work for everyone. In the past, formal apprenticeships and polytechnics were good alternatives, but they've been subsumed into the degree culture.

          Life skills lessons during further education would be a fine idea, but would have to be on top of the degree course. Which, of course, adds cost. Though one could argue that the further education system teaches a lot of life skills anyway.

          As to funding, I'll just note that any "taxpayer funding" should include a fair amount from corporates. However, they should not be allowed to overly influence the academic curriculum.

          Finally, on "toy" PhDs - every PhD is expected to contribute some original research, and they're so specialised at that level that almost every one will sound stupid to a layman

      5. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        >The problem we have now is that the previous government got a dividend from passing on the cost to the students

        Sort of...

        The real benefit was that Student Loans are off balance sheet debt and so don't have to be reported by the government.

        Given the repayment rate for Student loans is around 30%, there is quite naturally a growing debt iceberg(*) that some future government is going to have to deal with...

        (*) Iceberg as it can be thought of as a largely hidden mountain.

      6. EmilPer.

        Re: "If you want the economy to be strong, STEM subjects are a must."

        all subjects are a must, unless you think you can sell anything without marketing and copywriters and graphic designers and talking heads that can actually talk and people who can explain how at least three generations in your prospective markets think and what not to say at informal gatherings if you want them to place orders etc.

        The problem with education is not that it is under-financed, the problem is that on one hand it became so fractured and so abstract that most graduates can't see how to apply what they learned once they leave school, and on the other hand it stopped being about education or research and it became about publishing articles in "peer reviewed" journals and scoring points.

        There was a time 20-30 years ago when even "gender studies" studied gender, as in look at what makes genders behave differently instead of preaching, and before 1900 one studied literature in order to be able to write well and be able to convey his point of view when he left school and went into business or into politics, and one studied math in order to know how to make things with that knowledge.

      7. illuminatus

        Re: Bah!

        And it's all the more ironic that most of the decisions about this are being made by governments with little or no scientific background at all. There are quite a lot of PPE graduates in here: general studies for the chinless.

        The second paragraph is bang on the money though. I've a science degree, but think the way arts is funded, and opportunities restricted to the wealthiest is depressingly and predictably scandalous.

    5. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      Christ, it's depressing the number of people, presumably young and intelligent, who read my post and thought it said anything to do with the importance of mathematics.

      So here's the cheat sheet:

      First sentence was me butting in to the conversation, aka "getting the floor"

      Second was statement of perceived problem from *my* perspective (shouldn't need saying, but people keep reading everyone's responses here as omnipotent narrator rather than personal opinion and getting bent out of shape).

      Third was suggested answer to perceived problem.

      Fourth was metaphor stressing the relative unimportance of any other considerations, again, in my opinion.

      And for the Yankophobe who decided to lecture me on the UK contraction of "mathematics", I was born and lived half my life in the Midlands. I just knew to get when the getting was good, is all. Having had so many Clever Young Things loose their collective shirt over insignificant differences between the US and UK use of english-small-e when I inadvertently slip up and let an American usage through, I stopped bothering to translate and let Firefox correct all the spellings to Stateside-o-the-pond.

      Math. Maths. Gordon fucking Bennet.

      1. Cederic Bronze badge

        Re: Bah!

        Sadly it falls upon me to further upset you by pointing out that Gordon is fucking Bennett with two Ts.

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        (with apologies to The Bard)

        Cry havoc! and let loose the collective shirts of war!

        Also, "Yankophobe"? Apart from being a rather ugly portmanteau, it's mildly ironic to complain about dislike of Americans with the use of the pejorative, "yank".

        FWIW, I have nothing against people from the US (they're just people like people from anywhere else). I might take exception to some of the Anerican cultural practices (guns'n'Jesus, flag worship, rampant militarism, lack of social contract for the poor, and so on), to be honest though there's a lot that needs fixing in this country first before we can criticise others.

  3. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Not a UK issue

    There are still no university fees in Scotland. Unless you are English, and even then you qualify as Scottish if you live here for two years.

    I'm not being smug, I couldn't even afford a free university education.

    1. smudge Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Not a UK issue

      There are still no university fees in Scotland.

      There are. It's just that they are paid for by the Government (i.e. the taxpayers in general) rather than by the student themselves. Same as it used to be in England.

      There are university fees, and there always have been. It's just that the ludicrous (IMHO) aim of 50% of kids going through university was felt to be too much of a drain on the general taxpayers in England (and Wales and NI). Whereas Scotland recognises university education as an investment in its future.

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: Not a UK issue

        I take your point, presumably someone pays for my prescriptions too - just not me.

        I applied for a masters in electronics, and Heriot-Watt rejected me over the phone because I didn't have a degree. They were really quite rude about it, saying I'd never pass and it would be a waste of their time and resources.

        I told them my employer would be paying for it in full, and they replied I was in. The instant volte face showed me the shameless money grabbing aspect of further education.

      2. hoola Bronze badge

        Re: Not a UK issue

        Not to mention that using Student Loans has enabled billions of pounds of debt to be kept of the books as far as the Government is concerned. The entire Student Loan company and everything associated with it is just a total shambles benefiting a few at the very top.

        Along with the obsession of everyone going to "uni" (where the hell did that come from other than people trying to sound hip) it always was going to end in mediocrity for the students coming out at the end and huge costs. The population has not magically become more intelligent so standards have to have dropped.

        1. phuzz Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Not a UK issue

          The student loans company have already sold off my debt to an external company.

          Still, I'm down to only owing about £9k now, not bad after fifteen years eh? At this rate I should just about have it all paid off by about my fiftieth birthday :)

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Not a UK issue

          Not to mention that using Student Loans has enabled the UK to charge EU residents to go to UK universities, remember EU27 residents are entitled to the same terms as UK residents, hence if the old system had remained, the UK government would be paying grants to EU27 residents and paying for their university education. Obviously, Scotland got a special exemption so it could charge residents of England to attend their universities...

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Not a UK issue

            ... if the old system had remained, the UK government would be paying grants to EU27 residents and paying for their university education.

            The obvious solution here (to me at least) would be to have encouraged our young people to become more engaged with Europe, and send more of our students off to study in some of the best universities in the world, in the rest of the EU.

            Ironically, one of the results of introducing fees was to highlight to those who were paying attention that they still could go and study abroad, often at no cost (or a significantly reduced one). My partner got a bursary to do her master's degree in Ireland, there's no way she would have been able to afford to do it in this country.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Not a UK issue

              >The obvious solution here (to me at least) would be to have encouraged our young people to become more engaged with Europe, and send more of our students off to study in some of the best universities in the world, in the rest of the EU.

              Given how changing people's mindsets generally takes time, I think it is the generation still in school (potentially those that sat GCSE's this year) who have grown up with the EU who would have been among the first to seriously look at European (and overseas) universities. Because as you say, chosen wisely, they can represent excellent value for money.

      3. Cederic Bronze badge

        Re: Scotland recognises university education as an investment

        Now there's some historical revisionism.

        Scotland can afford to pay for degrees because they receive some much money from the English.

        The English don't get free degrees because Scottish MPs voted to take them away from the English.

        Just another example of casual Scottish racism at work.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: Scotland recognises university education as an investment

          The racism is entirely yours.

          1. Cederic Bronze badge

            Re: Scotland recognises university education as an investment

            I'm sorry, perhaps you could educate me and help me understand where within my post I displayed any racism at all?

  4. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
    Mushroom

    I know, I know, I keep banging on about Brexit

    "the UK is a net beneficiary of EU research funding "

    Now can we stop this shitshow omnishambles that's misleading some of the voters and get back to doing good Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths as well as proper business and trade.

    Don't be afraid. Some very intelligent people have been duped by charlatan's throughout history, its perfectly OK to admit Brexit was wrong and you want to remain in the EU.

  5. low_resolution_foxxes

    I always noticed an apparent gulf between art/STEM degrees at my university.

    There was a considerable number of history, art, language and music students who generally seemed to have 10 hours of lectures per week, lectured in mass groups of 100+ and given numerous "reading weeks" to study. It strikes me a highly profitable method of extracting cash out of pupils for the university doing very little.

    My friends in the above groups almost all went into charity and government jobs. Most drifted into marijuana, left wing socialism and lucrative government pensions.

    I took a STEM subject at the same uni and had a 35hr teaching week plus 2-3 pieces of coursework every week. I suppose we had expensive technical equipment (English grads had...Powerpoint and books?). Our uni made a healthy surplus from the R&D STEM / bioscience subjects by doing private sector research groups, patent licensing and startup companies. Of course there are less advanced colleges that really just scrape by and just put some crap overpaid lecturers giving dull lectures by Powerpoint.

    Considering the insane development of online video courses giving access to incredible degree content these days, why should a student spend £40k getting an arts degree?

    I noticed that MIT have already launched the majority of their technology degree level courses for free download. I seriously recommend it (professor Lewin's 'Electricity and Magnetism' video lectures are excellent, always f***ing about with cool tech!).

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      "Considering the insane development of online video courses giving access to incredible degree content these days, why should a student spend £40k getting an arts degree?"

      I know lots of stuff, but I only have a piece of paper saying I know some of it. Luckily it's the stuff I work in. I can give you a geology lecture if you want, but you are unlikely to want to hear me talk about slaty cleavage, and I do not have the piece of paper to convince you to listen to me.

    2. ivan5 Bronze badge

      It might also help if the universities drastically cut down on the number of fast food degrees but they can't because this id the age of 'all shall have prises' mentality rather than 'you must pass the entrance exam' as it was in my time.

    3. Rupert Fiennes Silver badge

      Indeed

      When I was at college, English was two hours a week. With reading weeks in autumn and spring terms!

      I was going to comment, but you've done it for me: why are we charging so much for Arts degrees? It's not as if they are cross subsidising STEM, and their graduates suffer so much as they struggle to pay back their loans (failing, leaving them to the taxpayer most likely) as they make lattes.

      Better that we charge what the degrees actually cost. Then universities can innovate and students can decide what degrees are actually worth the maintenance loans.

    4. Rich 11 Silver badge

      left wing socialism

      I wondered why you needed to prefix socialism with left wing but then remembered that there is a difference. Left-wing socialism redistributes everyone's money amongst everyone according to their needs while right-wing socialism redistributes everyone's money to the already wealthy.

    5. adam 40 Bronze badge

      Arts subsidises STEM already

      Exactly, the quotes in the article are disingenuous, it is the arts students who pay for the engineering and physics departments research.

      1. tfewster Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Arts subsidises STEM already

        Maths can be taught using just a blackboard and a few cheap b&w books . Why should Maths students subsidise engineering and physics departments expensive toys?

        Don't go down that line of thought, unless you're prepared to do itemised billing for the accommodation/management/teaching/lab components of every course and region.

      2. Cederic Bronze badge

        Re: Arts subsidises STEM already

        Strange, I thought it was the taxpayer that subsidises STEM degrees. Now, who pays all the taxes..?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No problem about cost

    Just apply for a grant from the European Social Fund. That's how I paid for my MSc.

    Ah. Errr. Never mind.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No problem about cost

      Down-thumbed for having an MSc or for not having to have paid for it?

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: No problem about cost

        Down-voted by one of the lurking True Brexit Believers I should think, for pointing out one of the good things about the EU.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've worked IT/Analyst roles all my life and I'm in my early 40s was made redundant and thought you know what I fancy a change. I want to do something that helps people so I looked at becoming a nurse. Apparently it takes 4 years of University with all the associated costs to end up with a 23-27k job and a load of debt. How does that even work? Why would anyone, even those just leaving college consider such a career? I can imagine the same with STEM subjects. It's all arse about tit if you ask me.

    1. fwthinks

      Up until a year or two ago, nursing degrees were free of tuition fees - which made sense as it would encourage people to take up nursing. Why anybody in government thought it was good idea to bump up the cost to 9K is beyond belief.

      If we had any sort of intelligent government, you would adjust the fees for each type of course to address skills gaps. For example charge 20K a year for a media studies degree and use this money to cross subsidise STEM courses.

      Of course you would need to change the student loan model - because at present, the cost of the course is fairly irrelevant to the majority of students who will never pay off their loan in full. Personally I believe that if you want to recover costs from graduates for their course, you need to to do this fairly and charge all graduates additional tax, not just the ones that cannot afford to pay upfront.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        >Up until a year or two ago, nursing degrees were free of tuition fees - which made sense as it would encourage people to take up nursing. Why anybody in government thought it was good idea to bump up the cost to 9K is beyond belief.

        If you work for the NHS after graduating for a number of years, your repayments are paid by the NHS and not from your pay packet.

    2. vogon00

      Couldn't agree more.

      I am in my early 50s now, and have been everything from a production-line electronics tech,, component-level repair tech., PDH/SDH transmission over optics and microwave radio, PSTN/ISDN Switching and 'last mile' stuff, and a system architect - and that's in my professional life (*I'm back to being a grunt now...that's life!).

      Wanting to pass on what I've learned for the benefit of the next generation, I looked into becoming a lecturer at the local uni, only to find my 1980s-Technical-College-HND-qualified body actually needed a degree and PGCSE or better....despite the mind still being able to keep ahead of, if not run rings around, noob graduates. The experience, willingness to teach and my (proven) *ability* to teach counted for nowt.

      As the AC says, I can't be arsed to spend the next 'n' years getting the entry qualifications for something I would really like to do but I fear very few would appreciate - especially as I would be self funding and have bills to pay. And no, the OU isn't an option for me.

      Entry level teaching salary isn't attractive at all - there was a bit on the radio a while back, opining that earning less than 30K means you are officially classed as 'low paid'.

      I suspect the down-votes will flood in for saying this, but I really think the educational system here in the UK is on it's arse these days.

      * It's all about bums on seats, which has seriously diluted the value in a degree - STEM or otherwise.

      * Teenagers are continually told the lie 'Go to Uni, get a degree, there''ll be a good job at the end of it' - May have been true once, but not any more,

      * Oh yeah - have you seen the degree courses on offer these days? If you're half decent, you'll be able to do ANY job afterwards - all a degree does these days is give you a 2 year head start and teach you how to continue learning..

      Lastly, uni isn't for everyone - there are those who *can* and cannot go to uni, and there are those who should and those who *should not*. I am the latter, went to a technical college and learned my trade from people who actually gave a f--k about what they did, and the quality of the students they were teaching. What would be called 'vocational' training these days was the right choice for me.

      Fortunately, it didn't have the same stigma then as it does now.

      Oh well, I'll just have to pass it all on the Boss instead.(Not a PHB, good bloke actually - I wonder if he know what he's in for!)

      (OMG, I'm getting old - my first use of the phrase 'these days' in a post!)

      1. Roger Greenwood

        Lot of affinity with your sentiments. As a student in the 70s, 80s and 90s (all part time) I remember we all appreciated those teachers/lecturers who had a life outside of school and were able to give us stories and examples from the real world. Those who have worked elsewhere before becoming teachers are becoming a rare breed (any good teacher is a rare breed - I couldn't do it!) and we (as a country) waste all that experience focussing solely on the academic aspects.

        Eventually we may realise that society needs to get better a lifelong learning (not cram it all in up to 21) and also draw on the experience of our elders towards the end of their careers. Does nobody think long term any more?

      2. DrBobK
        Headmaster

        PGCE etc.

        All this business about needing PGCEs or other teaching qualifications to be hired to teach in universities is either odd, weird, or wrong. These days in my hallowed institution (in the worldwide top-100 etc.) lecturers are hired regardless of whether they have any teaching qualifications (we do care about track record in research though) but have to do a teaching course during their first two years of employment. This happened some time after I started, so, as a member of the old guard, I have no teaching qualifications of any kind yet still get to be Prof. and teach at all levels. If, however, I retired from university and wanted to do some school teaching then I really would need a PGCE or something (although I think I could teach at a private school without any teaching qualifications).

      3. cookieMonster
        Pint

        Can't give you more than 1 upvote

        So have a few of these.

        Was in a similar position a couple of years ago. Quit IT, and went into brewing beer profissionally :-)

        Now I've a life and a job I actually look forward to each morning.

  8. codejunky Silver badge

    Meh

    University was rationed by the available funding from government. Then some idiot government wanted everyone to go to uni only to find that it costs money. The cost has increasingly been passed from the taxpayer to the student but the problem still stands that worthwhile subjects cost money.

    Basically the money must come from somewhere. Either we get more money stolen from us or the students have to pay. And then there is the balancing act of funding expensive courses like STEM where real work is done and loses money for the uni, and courses in left handed puppetry with no use in the market place unless they are going to go on to be teachers of the subject.

    The problem with taxing everyone is how we end up supporting studies of German polka history instead of the money propping up something worthwhile.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Meh

      Either we get more money stolen from us

      You'll come to appreciate having had money stolen from you once you reach old age only to find there aren't any cardiologists left anymore.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Meh

        @Rich 11

        "You'll come to appreciate having had money stolen from you once you reach old age only to find there aren't any cardiologists left anymore."

        Why? Cardiologists get paid very well, and with good reason. Are you claiming people wont want to make money if we dont get robbed? However having the government put their hand in my pocket to give degrees resulting in whopper-floppers is a waste of money. It results in the country paying a lot of money for the person handing you a big mac.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Meh

          Someone is struggling to understand how debt works, how investment in the future works, and how the perfect should not be the enemy of the good. Enjoy your blind short-termism while it lasts.

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Meh

            @Rich 11

            Thats a lot of words to say nothing. Want to try again? Maybe with a point or reason.

            "Enjoy your blind short-termism while it lasts."

            Short termism is offering a large portion of the young population higher education with no use for it nor the ability to fund it. Instead passing the problem on to the next government and the very kids they should be helping.

    2. DrBobK
      Headmaster

      Re: Meh

      The idea that everyone in the 50% of the school-leaver population who were encouraged to go to university would actually benefit from it is crazy. A lot of people were essentially conned into spending a lot of money on something they probably didn't enjoy (the learning bit, not the social life bit) and that, in truth, wasn't going to land them with better jobs than they could have got with a university education.

      1. Duffy Moon

        Re: Meh

        "The idea that everyone in the 50% of the school-leaver population who were encouraged to go to university would actually benefit from it is crazy."

        This policy was based upon the ideological fallacy that creating more graduates would magically create more graduate-level jobs, instead of what it has done - create more unemployed/low-paid graduates in debt and turned universities into profit-led institutions.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    no matter

    we can't afford 9K per year per (my kids') head, and I won't have them enter the new, brave world with a crippling debt (hello world!). So, they're going to study in the EU for free, more or less. And yes, I'm being smug for having sorted their dual citizenship on time. Sad times though, when a state can't and won't provide core services to the taxed.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Outdated

    Disband The House of Lords...

    Stop funding failing ops.

    Eff the EU, Get your Country back and in order already ya yiggs!

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Outdated

      You don't have a degree - or any education at all - do you?

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Outdated

      The other nonsense in your post aside, the House of Lords is an important check on the Commons, largely because they are not bound by the ~5 year election cycle. This means that the Lords don't have to worry about beign re-elected, and therefore aren't bound to follow short-term populist policies. Why this is important should be abundantly clear with the state of what is going on with British politics right now.

      Disbanding the Lords is therefore a Very Silly Idea.

      Reform, however, is another matter. What form reform should take, and how rapid any change should be are subtleties that probably require a lot of debate, and probably shouldn't involve the Commons too much either. Constitutional reform is difficult, and shouldn't be taken lightly. My suggestions would be to replace the system of appointment with one of election, reduce the term of service from life to something shorter (but still oinger than 4/5 years, perhaps 25 years), retire lords who are senile*, those who commit crimes, and those who don't attend, get rid of the religious appointees (26 bishops in this day and age FFS), and make moves to make their role more accessible to the public in general. There may be some value in having retired high-ranking members of the commons sit in the Lords, due to the experience of politics that they hold, but their partisan nature makes me somewhat uncomfortable.

      *You'f have to be careful of retiring lords (or judges) on the grounds of senility, to have very strict criteria, independent medical diagnoses, and independent oversight, to avoid abuse of such a process.

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