Archive | April, 2011

£9,000 for a few hours of PowerPoints every week? No thanks.

5 Apr

We’ve all known for a while about the coalition government’s decision to remove the cap from university tuition fees – but today’s announcement from the University of Central Lancashire that they are to start charging students £9,000 a year from 2012 has still shocked most current students.

I find it absolutely outrageous that the University can justify charging that much, when I for one (although I’m sure others would agree), don’t feel I get my money’s worth as it is, paying just under £4,000 a year.

As much as I enjoy my journalism course, lectures consist of PowerPoint presentations for about 50 minutes, and seminars/workshops last for a maximum two hours, during which we again tend to have the joy of PowerPoint. I have learnt a huge amount in my two years here, but I can’t help but think that there’s so much more we could have been taught, and more skills developed if we were in for more than 8 hours a week. Yes, we may have access to computers and other expensive equipment, and I understood that my fees contributed to the cost of cameras and audio recording equipment in my first year, but I have specialised in print journalism this year, and as such, don’t think I have got my money’s worth.

Indeed, I’m due to pay over £40 for an exam next week, an exam which I could potentially fail, and that would be money wasted. My tutor was apologetic when she first informed us of the (upwards of) £200 expense of sitting all of the recommended National Council for the Training of Journalists accredited exams. She did explain that she hopes to have the exam fees included in tuition fees in future years – but that’s not a huge amount of use, when it is something which won’t come into force during my time at the university. I must make it clear, that these exams are optional, but we are encouraged to sit them in the interests of career prospects.

Before coming to university, I was under the (perhaps somewhat naive) impression that having a degree would almost certainly get me a foot on the career ladder, and give me an invaluable advantage over those without. But when I started my course, and on numerous occasions since, we have been told time and time again, that just having a degree isn’t enough – work experience and knowing the right people are crucial. At least for journalism anyway.

I think that the increase in fees is going to make prospective students seriously question whether a degree is necessary for their chosen career, and look into other means of gaining the experience and skills that they might need. Universities need to talk to current students before making such huge decisions which are going to impact on thousands of people – maybe if they heard what we had to say, they could make constructive changes which are in the best interests of students.

This decision doesn’t affect me or my friends currently at the university, yet my Facebook feed and Twitter timeline are full of people exclaiming their disgust at the news – the general consensus seems to be that it just isn’t worth it. I think that UCLan and any other university who will be implementing an increase in fees need to look closely at the courses they provide, and see how they can be improved to ensure that prospective students are going to be getting their money’s worth and will leave university with a better chance of employment.