Whether you call it #Unishambles or not, education is becoming available only to those who can afford it

As The Independent reported this week, there is a giant black hole in university funding. The people who will pay for it are the undergraduates of the future

Related Topics

University should be the best years of a person's life. You are as likely to discover more about yourself than the subject you are studying. Moving away from home teaches you discipline and life management skills that you wouldn't develop under the watchful eyes of your parents.

Many youngsters may not get this opportunity. They have to choose between racking up debts to go to university and gain the experience many of their predecessors took for granted or do something else. But despite its cost, a good education is priceless in and of itself.

Moral philosophers since the ancient Greeks have emphasised that education isn't just a means towards intelligence, but also towards happiness. They do not simply mean that well educated people are happier, but that intelligence and reason are tools that help us to be happy. It would be a great shame if people were priced out of the education through the political mistakes.

Thousands of students and lecturers took to the streets in 2010 to protest the coalition placing the burden of education on the shoulders of students via the trebling of tuition fees to £9,000 a year.

Black Hole

But the recent Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) report reveals that it isn't just students who are picking up the tab. They estimate that there could be a £1bn “black hole” in the government's figures, stemming from two “highly uncertain and optimistic assumptions”. The first is that the average graduate will be earning £75,000 30 years after they graduate and the second is that the average fee charged by universities would be £7,500 a year.

Both assumptions would prima facie appear hopeful at best. Monster.co.uk, the jobseekers website, suggests that the average salary for people with 20 or more years experience is £39,000, just over half what the government assume the average graduate would be paid with the same level of experience.

After the Comprehensive Spending Review and Browne's review of university funding, universities warned that the cuts to teaching grants would result in every university pushing their fees as high possible. In an open letter the Vice Chancellor of Oxford said that under the old system they still had to make up a deficit of £8,000 per student each year. While not many institutions spend as much per pupil as Oxford, it seems obvious that given the opportunity, universities would try to raise them as high as possible.

The whole exercise in getting students and universities to shoulder more of the  burden was to reduce the amount of public funds being channelled into education, yet it seems that this will be unsuccessful. Not only is there the worry that the government now has to fund higher loans, but the massive increase in tuition fees has pushed the Consumer Price Index up 0.2  percentage points, meaning a real term increase in public sector pensions and benefits.

So it seems the attempt to save money has resulted in more people having to pay more money!

Future losses

Universities have to fill a black hole in their finances. The government, who estimated they would save £1.3bn, is going to have to pay anything between £420m and £1.14bn in additional benefits and pensions.

But the real losers are the future students. Those who have played no part in the financial crisis or in the political game that is going on in this country. Many will be denied the opportunity to go to university because those who got it for free have decided that others should pay for their mistakes and the mistakes of their parents. Debts of £27,000 are no laughing matter, and it is worrying that an education, something Labour tried for so long to open up to everyone, may now revert to being the reserved purely for those who can afford it.

This would be sad, because the heavyweights of moral philosophy suggest that education is the route not just to being a good person and citizen, but to being a happy one too. It would be a shame if this Unishambles results in happiness, as well as education, being only available to those who can afford it.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - SQL Server, T-SQL

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Data Analyst (SQL Server, T-SQL, data)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Errors & Omissions: Outgunned by a lack of military knowledge

Guy Keleny
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week  

General Election 2015: What on earth happened to Ukip?

Matthew Norman
Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

In the driving seat: Peter Kay

Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road