Is a degree worth £9,000 per year?

 

This week Oxford University confirmed that it would raise undergraduate tuition fees to £9,000 per year. The decision came after Cambridge, Imperial College London and Exeter also announced their intentions to charge the maximum allowed by the government’s recent reforms. To say the least, this news puts Nick Clegg’s claims that £9,000 fees would be ‘the exception, not the rule’ in doubt. But is a university degree really worth all that money? We've asked recent graduates and current students what they think.

Luke Martin studied Social and Cultural Studies at the University of Nottingham:

In material terms, access to a library and a few hours of contact time each week might not exactly represent good value for the £3,000 a year I will eventually pay for my social science degree, let alone the £9,000 that others will pay in the future. Similarly, as I find myself six months after graduation working full-time in an unstimulating retail job and keeping my thematic interests alive by doing unpaid work experience in my ‘free time’, it doesn’t immediately seem like a great investment.

Yet the ‘university life’ is a deeply individual one and it’s a shame to imagine it simply as a (very expensive) commodity, when for most it’s an all encompassing and enjoyable lived experience. I suspect that I took a lot out of it that can’t be measured in pounds, through spending time with engaging tutors, being part of a learning atmosphere and gaining a better understanding of my own ambitions.

Tom Woodruff studied Physics at University College London:

I completed my degree last summer, having studied Physics at UCL. I was lucky enough to go to university when tuition fees were only around £3,000 per year. With the maintenance loan I received, which was about £4,500 per year, I left university with about £22,500 of debt. Meanwhile, students who are now preparing to go to university can expect to pay £9,000 in tuition fees, leaving them with approximately £40,500 of debt.

The median graduate starting salary, according the Higher Education Statistics Agency, is £22,000. There are less reliable statistics for non-graduate starting salaries, but a good estimate seems to be around £14,000. So, if a graduate manages to find work, they can expect to earn £8,000 more a year than non-graduates. However, taking into account their debt and the time spent in university not working, students paying £9,000 a year in tuition will have to wait 13.31 years before their net earnings are greater than those of non-graduates. For my peers, it will be more like 11.06 years.

Going to university is, economically speaking, an investment of time and money that takes a decade before one sees a return. Ultimately, however, even with fees of £9,000 per year, it is far more beneficial: by the end of their working lives, graduates will have earned around £400,000 more than non-graduates.

Polly Noble is a first year Medical student at the University of Leicester:

If I had been faced with fees of £9,000 when I was applying for university, I think I would still have thought it was worth it. My course gives me the privilege of knowing that a job will probably be waiting for me at the end of it. As long as I make it through and graduate, I should be able to start paying back my debts relatively quickly. Fees of £9,000 would just have meant paying off debts over a longer period of time. My course lasts five years, so I will be in a huge amount of debt anyway.

At the end of sixth form I couldn’t decide whether to study medicine or geography, but if these increased fees had faced me, I would actually have chosen medicine more quickly. The difficulty of finding a job after doing a geography degree would have made repaying my loan debts much harder.

However, there are lots of people currently on my course (especially graduate students) who would definitely not have been able to study had £9,000 fees been in place. This is what worries me. People who deserve and are fully capable of doing a degree may be denied the opportunity.

Adam White studied English Literature at the University of Oxford

I was an international student, which meant that I (well, my long-suffering father) ended up paying about £13,000 in tuition fees. My education essentially subsidised the tuition of others, which I guess seems okay.

So was this ridiculously expensive degree worth it? Well, I had a fantastic time, met people who will hopefully be famous and important, and I've come out the other side knowing a little bit about an awful lot. But was it £9,000 a year’s worth of knowledge? Or even £13,000? We're left in a world where a degree is just an expensive, bog-standard qualification. And given how many of us recent graduates are sprinting in the direction of M.A.s, I'm starting to feel a lot like some guy who mastered the abacus the day they invented the calculator.

I don’t have a job yet., but if £9,000 is the cost of being employable (and I DO hope that someone will eventually employ me), then that looks like the cost we'll have to pay—at the expense of even more years spent repaying loans. Did I get £13,000 a year’s worth of education? Nah. Was it worth it? Ask again later. It better have been.

Chloe Chittenden is currently doing an Art and Design foundation course at Chesterfield College and plans to go to university next year

I will openly admit that I have never really considered the financial element of university. The cost of uni and the debt I'll have to pay is something I will think about in the future, when I'm earning my own wage and am financially stable. I wouldn’t let the rising costs of tuition put me off going, but I am worried that universities will start charging higher fees as a symbol of their status. This would be highly unfair as university should be for everyone, not just for those who can afford it. I hope that having a degree will further my career and give me an advantage over those who haven't got one. In the long run, the price of higher education will hopefully pay itself off. University is an enriching experience where you live in a new city, meet new people and study a subject that you love... Why let money hold you back from all that?

Daniel Smith studied English Language and Communication at King’s College London

It's difficult to put a valuation on a degree, at least in monetary terms. Each student will have a different experience to the next and just because everyone has a degree does not mean there is an equal starting point when looking to start a career after university. In a fundamental sense though, a degree is worth any amount of money, if it's something you've always wanted to aspire to. This, I think, is definitely the case, when you consider that tuition is paid for through loans and, fair enough, it may burden graduates with massive debts, but they are not the same debts as with commercial and bank loans. It will mean repaying money for longer, but won't realistically have the ability to financially cripple anyone. If tuition fees had been £9,000 when I was at university, I would have coughed up the money - well, the student loans company would have. There is simply so much uproar about it because it is a big change and the students who will face the transition will feel hard done by. In ten years or so, £9,000 will predictably seem the normal going rate.

So, what do you think? Have your say below.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Learning Support Assistant

£50 per day: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Experienced Learning Sup...

Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a flexible inspira...

Graduate Accountant - Banking - Bristol - £140pd

£100 - £140 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Graduate Accountant - Banking - Bri...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little