Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Students 'Tricked into Thinking They Will Earn More after Study'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Students 'Tricked into Thinking They Will Earn More after Study'

Article excerpt

Byline: Tim Ross education correspondent

MINISTERS have "played a confidence trick" on a generation of students to go to university with the false promise they will earn more as graduates, leading private schools warned today.

The Government justified tuition fees of [pounds sterling]3,225 per year with claims that graduates earn hundreds of thousands of pounds more than workers without degrees.

Many students feel university has given them little more than "an expensive library ticket" as graduate unemployment soars, said Andrew Grant, the new chairman of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

"There's been a confidence trick played on young people," he said. "The Government has used historical and partial data to justify the introduction of tuition fees on the grounds there is a premium on graduate earnings. Yes, there was -- when graduates were fairly scarce on the jobs market.

"I suspect quite a few have got themselves into university only to find they might not increase their career earnings and find themselves with [pounds sterling]23,000 of debt."

Labour and the Tories have both pledged to expand university education to meet growing demand for places. Increasing numbers of graduates are unemployed as employers cut back on jobs. Many must take bar or supermarket jobs or work for nothing.

Demand for university courses is higher than ever as the recession drives more mature students back to study. An extra 60,000 candidates applied this year. Tens of thousands have struggled to get loans and grants on time because the student loans agency has been unable to cope with the surge. Vicechancellors are lobbying for the power to increase tuition fees above the [pounds sterling]3,225 cap. Many want to charge fees of about [pounds sterling]7,000 per year. A government review of the system is to begin within weeks.

Mr Grant said higher fees would lead students to take a "consumerist" approach. He said: "Particularly in the arts, it's not uncommon for students to come away with what they view as a very expensive library ticket and reading list. …

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