Is uni really worth the money?
If only we had the gift of hindsight! For a prospective student, one of the biggest concerns you will face is whether or not this degree of yours is going to be worth the painful-to-look-at sum of money you will owe by the end of it. Is uni really worth the money?
True, it works as a tax (that’s 9% of every penny earnt over £25k), which softens the blow a little. But when you take into consideration the ludicrous tuition fees that are over £9k per year now for home students, on top of any maintenance loan you take out, on top of the interest that they sneakily say very little about, you are looking at a considerable sum of money; so the big question is: is it worth it?
I can’t answer this question for you, but what I can do as someone who has spent three years at a pretty good uni is highlight some of the realities of the expensive education you will be getting.
In terms of professional competence; there is no denying that the faculties of most universities are brimming with experts in their field. They conduct astounding research, they lead advancements in their fields, and they are there to help you if you know which questions to ask. As part of your institution of choice, you will have access to some of the greatest minds out there, but is that enough?
Having the resources and knowing how to use them are two very different ball games, and while the universities offer up the former, they give remarkably little input into the latter, leaving students to guess at how to manage their time and resources effectively. The idea of university has always been to encourage students to learn these skills independently, and sure, when tuition fees were non-existent, this was a great strategy for weeding out the best of the best. But now that we’re being charged extortionate amounts of money to attend these institutions, surely the least we should expect is some insider’s tricks? Some specialised support? As I have said, the resources are there, but without teaching students how to find them and how to use them, they often go unnoticed and swept under the rug.
What about lecture content? Well, a typical hour at university costs you, roughly speaking, about £35. This varies from course to course, but for that amount of money per student, you must wonder how good this hour really is. Considering if you were to give up your time for a part-time job, you would be lucky to get even £10 per hour, so surely each hour at uni leaves you brimming with knowledge and betterment? I mean, take from lectures what you will; much of the content is down to personal effort, but at the base of it all, you are receiving a PowerPoint presentation. Is this really worth it?
The issue perhaps isn’t even in the presentation of content, but maybe that given online access to all of the lecture material and suggested readings, we could probably complete the course with very little input in half the time. Considering degrees are supposed to represent a truly exceptional standard of education and more importantly are meant to feel like a true and worthwhile achievement, why does it seem to me that something so dry and reasonably straightforward to muddle through should not constitute a degree? There is something missing.
Let me note that I in no way put all, or even most of the blame on the unis themselves. They have to jump through the same hoops and tick the same boxes as any educational institution. The blame lies at the core, the ones who make the policies: the government. Regardless, it is what it is, and here you are, trying to decide whether to go to university.
For the sake of the tuition fees? Well if the government will continue to subsidise you and only take a small percentage of your wage once you’re earning a reasonable amount, then I say don’t worry about the money! In terms of earning a qualification that will set you in better stead for your career, I say go for it! Just don’t expect the world for your money, because it seems like, despite you having to pay through the nose, you still have to put in all of the effort.