Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

For the UK students: oppose those fees.

  1. Jan 18, 2007 #1

    matt grime

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I was reading in the Guardian today a report that UK university heads want to increas fees at UK universities from 3,000GBP to 5,000GBP, with an expectation that really 7,500 -10,000GBP is what is required.

    Well, if you're a UK student, start a campaign against this. Get some support from your schools. Make your parents aware of the nonsensical reasons put forward.

    The vague heuristic put forward is that to compete with the US, who have the best universities on the whole, we need to move towards their models. OK. Let's examine that notion for one second. Firstly, we must exclude Harvard et al from the discussion. These are private institutions supported not by the state (for the purposes of educating undergraduates). The US has a far higher number of rich benefactors (Carnegie, etc) who have been leading examples in supporting society's loftier aims. Cite examples of UK rich buggers who pay for orchestras, university chairs, and the like that are in anyway comparable. Harvard 'earns' more in private donations per year than any UK university can ever dream of getting from the state. This also completely ignores the fact that the best students at Harvard (for example) do not pay anything approaching the stated tuition fees.

    We are left with a fairer direct comparison between a normal UK university and a state university in the US, such as UC Berkeley, or U Wisconsin (Madison).

    Here are some examples of tuition fees from US institutions that are comparably funded (i.e. supported by the tax payer directly) in the US:

    UC Berkeley $2,703
    UC Los Angeles $5,406
    U Washington (Seattle) $5,985.
    U Illinois (Urbana) $9,996

    All of these are much better places to be a student than where I work (University of Bristol; current fees equate to $5,700).

    It is time the UK accepted that the State has to pay for the universities, not the student. So come on, prospective students. Start demanding explanations of the current dire state of affairs.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 18, 2007 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I too am increasingly annoyed at the way our university system is funded and the way the costs are being passed onto students. At one time a student could go to a UK university with a grant and expect a high standard of education. These days one is lucky if they come away from university 20k in debt. I also recently learned that national insurance is not contributed while in full time further education aswell (which is a little off topic I admit) which shows how much the government is really selling out those who wish to contribute to the countries academic accolades.
  4. Jan 18, 2007 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Funny you should mention this, as I'm just watching "This Week," and they're discussing top-up fees. Apparently, the government want to increase top-up fees-- again!

    I thought it was quite ridiculous when top-up fees were introduced. If the government wants to increase the number of people in higher education, then how will increasing the cost help this goal? Surely, this will just enable the richer people to go to university, whilst the less well off students (who may have more natural flair, and who may be more likely to work hard as they know it's not handed to them on a plate) will be pushed into employment.

    With regard to the point that you make, Matt, I could see this coming when top-up fees were introduced. I'm not sure that I'm 100% right here (so feel free to correct me) but I heard that the larger, more renowned universities were considering putting their fees higher than the smaller "newer" ones. Surely, this would just increase a "bidding war" where fees escalate from year to year!

    So, to second the above; prospective students, try your best to stop this farce before it gets out of control!
  5. Jan 18, 2007 #4

    matt grime

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    And before anyone asserts that fees in the UK are means tested, you should be aware that they are in the US as well.
  6. Jan 18, 2007 #5
    Sucks doesn't it? Australia is in a VERY similar situation to the UK by the sounds of it. 95% of our university's are funded by the federal government, however we're heading in the direction of insane tuition fees.

    While Australian's are automatically eligible for "tuition loans" which we don't pay back until we graduate and start earning a minimum salary, many of us are coming out with debts in excess of $30k - $50k. Not sure how this compares with the debts in the UK/US, but here that's vastly different to the time (only 20 years ago) where university education was FREE!
  7. Jan 19, 2007 #6


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I don't see where the money goes. Most of what one learns is from books anyway, unless one means graduate education. There is no reason why undergrad education shouldn't be cheap. One can buy all the books for an undergrad qualification (4 years or whatever) for less than 1000 pounds, so why should the tuition cost 3k per year per student? Do universities give out information about where the money goes?
  8. Jan 19, 2007 #7
    hmm I live in the US and my sister is going to have $100,000 in loans by the time she graduates, and I will probably have between 60k and 80k.

    and the means testing in the US isn't all that great, its now expected that you will take out loans. and I believe the financial aid goes about as far as they believe your line of credit for the loans will go.

    To my knowledge every university has to report where their money is going, so if you wanted to find out you could. But most of the money goes into building labs/studios/administration and o course the professors pockets.
  9. Jan 19, 2007 #8


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
  10. Jan 19, 2007 #9


    User Avatar

    Last edited: Jan 19, 2007
  11. Jan 19, 2007 #10

    matt grime

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    My mistake - I didn't notice the per semester qualification (some sites list it as per semester, some per year):


    is their page. The tuition fees are $2,703 per semester, 5,406 per year. 7,703 includes other mandatory fees that are not for tuition. This is about tuition fees only. We should compare like for like. No one in the UK would have to pay a $1146 per year for a health insurance fee, so it should not be counted.

    The whole like for like thing is what confuses the debate in the UK, as far as I'm concerned. It is sleight of hand in the most egregious manner when politicians, or university heads, cite the out-of-state fees, or even worse the fees imposed by a private university. And no one in the education supplements in the Guardian has pulled them up about this. It seems to be the University fee meme - education costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in the US. Nonsense.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
  12. Jan 20, 2007 #11
    not quite nonsense, in the US alot of state schools have large portions of their student body from out of state. For instance my school UMASS has 1/3rd of the student body coming from out of state (including myself) paying about 25k a year. and UVA (my dad's school) has about half of their student body from out of state.

    So all of these schools have the extra tuition money available in order to do whatever they need to do, and in some ways susidize the instate tuition. So ifyou were to establish a flat rate tuition at these schools it would have to be in the 10k range.

    Also just out of curiosity how much does room and board cost in the UK? From what I've seen in the US it can run from 7k-12k, and for 95% of all students is a necessity, is it the same in he UK?
  13. Jan 20, 2007 #12
    The costs are comparable for residence; in short. About £3500 or $7k.

    I absolutely fail to understand why - if the economy is better than it ever has been - the government is unable to spend any more money on something it acknowledegs is an important part of its policy.

    If the government attempts to raise the cap again, I'm going to start campaigning to find students ways to cheat their loans - bankruptcy writeoffs or leaving the country and not paying. Anything to punish this idiotic government.
  14. Jan 21, 2007 #13

    matt grime

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    The point of out of state tuition fees is surely to offset the fact that those students (and/or their parents) have not contributed through state taxes to the state university. Exactly the same situation holds in the UK with non-UK nationals paying very high fees.

    Again, compare like for like. If you wish to go out of state, that is more comparable to a UK student going out of the country, owing to the way taxation works.

    Of course in the US, you might strongly wish to move out of State: not every state university is comparable to Berkeley or even UC San Diego. Of course, very few UK universities are remotely comparable with those places. In the US you're stung by geography, in the UK by the lack of good universities.

    However, one thing that is different in the US is that all parents have, for years, had a good idea that their kids might want to go to an expensive college and can save accordingly. Contrast that to the UK that has gone from having grants to attend university to demanding 3,000GBP in the space of the last 9 years.

    Someone who had kids in the UK in 1988 thought they had a country where the State paid for university education, and was open to all irrespective of background (many of the politicians who imposed tuition fees were those who benefited most from the old system).
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2007
  15. Jan 21, 2007 #14
    yes but the university has already recieved its funding from the state, their funding is not dependant on how many in-state/out of state students they take in (in the pure sense).

    so they jack up the fees for out of state students to bolster their budget and because they can justify doing it. Everyone in the US pays state taxes, and every state in the US has some state university to which a portion of that money goes, and so even though I haven't paid a tax to the state of massachussetts, and thus helped pay for the state university system. I have paid a tax to the state of connecticut and helped pay for their education system. So even though I'm going out of state I'm paying for UCONN to educate somebody.

    So to sum up what I'm saying, i have payed taxes on an education, I' paying a higher fee to the out of state school because it subsidizes the in-state students and helps them maintain a larger budget than would normally be available. The lower in-state tuition is just a courtesy for in-state students.
  16. Jan 21, 2007 #15
    That amounts to the same thing, doesn't it?

    It might well be contractual with the state - you get the funding on condition that you offer preference to in-state students. It may not be in the interests of the university but it most definitely is in the interests of the state - else why bother running a state university at all? If it were my legislature, I'd certainly make it that way,
  17. Jan 21, 2007 #16
    yes hey do do it that way which is why I said in the pure sense, of course if the state university is taking in 80% of their students from out of state, then there will be problems. but if you offer just 50% of the spots to instate, then you are adding one hell of a preference to instate students if your a nationally recognized school such as UVA or UC berkley.

    thats the point of sumarizing isn't it?
  18. Jan 21, 2007 #17
    als Matt Grime you said that in the UK you are stung by a lack of good universities, doesn't that indicate that the system that existed up until now has been failing? and in order to get enough money into the UK higher education system would cost the average tax payer something that they are unwilling to pay? and so increasing the tuition cap to ($?pounds?)10,000 and then allowing for financial aid to take care of those who can't afford that fee may just be the only way of making the schools competitive with US schools.
  19. Jan 21, 2007 #18

    matt grime

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Why would it cost the average tax payer something they are unwilling to pay? Oddly, the direct tax burden in the UK is lower than in the US, perhaps if we taxed people properly, and spent it properly (guess how much money is being spent on a pointless citizen's database, and how much money has been wasted on attempts to computerize the passport office?) we'd get somewhere. Presumably people who presumably are not well off freely hand over millions of pounds a week to the government in the voluntary tax on stupidity that is the national Lottery; no one can argue the tax burden is too low.

    Attending university increases the amount of tax you pay to the UK goverment by somewhere in the region of 40,000GBP (average lifetime earnings were estimated at approx 100,000-120,000GBP more by the UK government itself at the time they first talked of imposing them). There is your tuition fee. That is how a sliding scale tax system works. Universities are responsible for a great deal of the innovations in engineering and industry. And we haven't even got to the insiduous 'top up fees' that Labour MPs managed to be so two faced about. One MP even managed to claim, when confronted about their apparent change of mind over fees that they never opposed fees, just top up fees. They now support top up fees.

    Plus, underfunding has been endemic for years, as have improperly costed increases in student numbers. Simultaneously we have seen a brain drain to the US where salaries (in State Universities) are higher.

    But you have completely missed the point. Education is portrayed as costing tens of thousands of dollars in fees as a de facto standard in the US. That is just not true. If you choose to go out of state, or to private institution, and don't have financial aid, then it can be expensive. But the US manages to run, through State taxes, a good state university system. OK, you opted out of that system, just like you can opt out of the library system your local taxes pay for, or the public school system. Plus UK universities do precisely the same thing as US ones in using out of state fees (or fees from non-UK nationals) to subsidise UK students. So your point is diluted - and neither of us has the figures to argue how much subsidy there is really.

    Fees in the UK are pretty much fixed at the capped rate across the board, and you don't have a choice in paying them, of going somewhere cheaper, and they were introduced without adequate warning to enable parents to save for their kids.

    So, if you're a UK student don't buy the rubbish put forward. Not every student pays, or is expected to pay 30,000USD a year in fees.

    You earn more and thus you pay (proportionally) more to the government in tax as a result of the privilege of going to university, so don't let them fob you off with the excuse that you ought to pay for it. And this isn't even to mention contributing to the economy.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2007
  20. Jan 21, 2007 #19


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I have to say I thoroughly agree with matt's point (even if I don't with his tax burden argument!), and am glad that I've got away with a mere 15,000 GBP debt following my studies (previous to the introduction of top-up fees).

    If you (this is directed to anyone) feels that strongly about it, lobby your local MP, and be sure to vote out the government that brought the fees in.

    I'm getting more and more peed off with this country by the week. Council tax and university fees have already wound me up. If the NHS gets as bad as I think it's going to get, I'll seriously consider upping roots and going somewhere which is less of a piss take.
  21. Jan 21, 2007 #20


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Tuition in the US varies quite a bit by state, depending on the sources of state revenue, and the cost of living in that state.

    Here are the tuition and fees from other state universities that are considered highly ranked, and also expensive.

    At the University of Michigan, the fees in this table are per term (semester), not year.
    http://www.umich.edu/~regoff/tuition/full.html#Lower_Gen [Broken]

    And at Rutgers University, for the academic year:

    I'm not sure what parts of our student fees would be covered by other sources in the UK, and what parts are considered inclusive with tuition. For example, our "fees" include things like access to computer rooms and printer use in libraries, as well as use of gyms/fitness/recreation facilities on campus, so there's quite a range of things included in those fees that may or may not be considered part of plain old tuition elsewhere. Purchase of books is not included in any of those costs either.

    I have no beef with whatever British students or other taxpayers want done with their tax money and what percentage of your tuition you think should be paid for by taxes vs paid for out-of-pocket. I'm only adding this information since you're trying to make a comparision to tuition at state universities in the US.

    Keep in mind that when students have their tuition offset with scholarships or grants, they are not all state-funded. Many are privately-funded scholarships, so it shouldn't be assumed that the state is bearing the brunt of the cost of those reductions that the student sees.

    Just by looking at the variation across the US in state university tuitions, the real take-home message is that you can't generalize the cost of education. Some schools have better donors, some larger student bodies, some are in areas where land is more expensive to acquire and construction costs also higher, some have more state subsidies, some have higher faculty salaries to compensate for higher cost of housing near the universities, some have smaller class sizes and more classes taught by faculty rather than TAs, etc. For example, the university I work at attracts a lot of out-of-state students because our out-of-state tuition is actually cheaper than the in-state tuition in some neighboring states, so students can take the opportunity to live away from home and still afford tuition. That's because we receive a lot of funding coming from the coal industry in the state.

    We also cover a lot of costs of operating a university through research funding here too. So, while that's not meant to pay for the students' education, it indirectly impacts them by helping pay faculty salaries, and costs of running facilities. It also brings in "indirect" costs that help pay for maintenance and other general operating expenses. This means more of the students' tuition money can be focused on their education and not as many other costs of running the university.

    I have no idea how such costs are covered in the UK.

    So, really, it's probably not terribly useful to try to make comparisons to US tuition when trying to determine what amount of tuition is reasonable in the UK. Tax structures are different, funding priorities are different, admissions processes are different, etc.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook