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Our University System Has Officially Reached Bullshit Status
You probably don't need a study to tell you that going to university isn't what it's cracked up to be. It's certainly not what it used to be, considering students in top-tier universities could soon be paying more than £9,000 a year and the government's decision to increase what graduates pay back.
While organisations like the free university in Brighton are counteracting the inaccessibility of degree education, the system remains exclusive and expensive. A new study confirms this officially, basically claiming going to university may be a total waste of time for varying reasons from cost consequences to career options.
The new report entitled The Graduate Premium: manna, myth or plain mis-selling? argues that it's becoming increasingly difficult (nearly impossible) to justify a university education. Due to spiralling tuition fees, rent costs and student loan interest rates, researchers wonder if it really is helping graduates' futures, or hindering them.
The study published last week by The Intergenerational Foundation investigates whether the outcome of going to university is worth all that goes into it. According to the paper, successive governments have promised university-goers a "£400,000 average lifetime graduate premium" (the amount a graduate can expect to earn over their working life). However, as the paper points out, "the average graduate premium has been reduced to around £100,000" and is most likely even lower. So then, is it worth racking up £60,000 worth of debt?
Well, unless you leave university with a doctorate or law degree, you will probably be out of pocket in the long-run. In what's even more bad news for creative subject graduates, the study says:
"There is no guaranteed graduate earnings premium for the many young people entering higher education.
"It begs the question as to why the government is encouraging 50% higher education participation rates if the employment market is not providing graduate-level pay in return for student investment."
Arguing that any politician who supports education austerity in the name of better future earnings "should be challenged for gross mis-selling". Not only has it actually become status quo to have a university education, but this means graduates are no longer "hyper-employable". They're just gravely in the red.
As young people battle to be more employable than their peers, by going into higher education to set themselves apart, even more debt is being incurred.
It's not just bad news for students and graduates though. In fact, the system is actually perpetuating the government's debts. In light of the government's decision to retroactively increase tuition fees, studiers anyone who has started university since 2012 will see their interest rates on student loans increased year on year. But, as this will contribute to less of us paying our whole student loans back, the government will be worse off in the long-run.
The report states that as graduates stop earning enough to pay off the loans, and with interest building up, this is bad news for young people but "worse news for the Treasury as poorer students borrowing an average of £53,000 will accrue interest of £282,420.75, if their student loan is left unpaid for the full 30 years and then written off, as the current system promises." It continues: "No wonder the government is so keen to sell off the loan book!"
Even Martin Lewis, who you'll know as the Money Saving Expert guy puts in his two cents in the appendix of the study. "Compelled" to pen a letter addressed to David Cameron regarding the government's decision to retrospectively increase student loans, he wrote:
"The decision to backtrack on this is hugely damaging. It means many lower- and middle-earning graduates will repay thousands more over the life of their loans."
He then goes on to explain that, over the additional costs, more important is "the message this sends". He said: "The regulator would not allow any commercial lender to make a change to its terms this way. It is therefore wrong for the government to do so – retrospective changes have always been seen as bad governance."
Ending on a relatively solemn note, the report concludes:
"The UK risks creating a self-perpetuating debt-generating engine that serves only those who run it, while leaving graduates from poorer background to pay an extra 9% graduate tax on earnings over £21,000 for the next 30 years."
If you ask us, it already is that. But we're never going to actually have to pay anything back, right? For more encouragement to slam your head into a table, read the full report.
By Lydia Morrish, published on 09/08/2016