Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Up the Revolution

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Up the Revolution

Article excerpt

I've been waiting a while now for increased university fees to spark a revolution. There has been no explosion yet, but research recently published by the Sutton Trust provides another stick of dynamite. The report calculates that today's students will be paying off their loans into their fifties, with even middle-income earners still making repayments of £2,000 a year by then.

I have two daughters at university. The elder is on the old fee system and will leave with tuition and living-cost debts of £24,000; the younger will have debts of £44,000. Allowing for interest and inflation, the Sutton Trust estimates that students like her will repay a whopping £66,000.

Why aren't they screaming? Well, if they want the rite of passage that is university then they have no choice. And teenagers do not worry too much about what is going to happen in the impossibly distant world of their fifties.

I would see it from that point of view, too, if only I thought students were getting value for money.

My younger daughter is in her first year of a history degree at a Russell Group university. The first two terms are 12 weeks each; she has seven hours of lectures and tutorials a week. The third term is just six weeks with one lecture a week; the rest of the time she is expected to revise for end-of-year exams. So, that makes 174 hours of contact time in the year.

And my daughter has to write 15 essays or assignments a year. Let's be generous and allow her lecturer an hour to mark each - that's another 15 hours. …

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