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All universities should provide an excellent standard of higher education

(67 Posts)
MapleandPear Wed 17-Aug-16 16:39:07

I see plenty of argument on here for kids having access to equal education in terms of schooling. People arguing against any schools which are exclusive, whether it be grammar or private schools.

I don't see a lot of argument, however, against the exclusivity of different universities, or that qualifications and grades should be all employers are allowed to see on CVs and job applications.

If social class, money and privilege buy you a standard level of education, do they not also forge a path into higher education?

This is particularly pertinent now universities get a lot of funding through tuition fees directly paid by students (or by the state/a quasi-governmental body which the student pays back). And many charge the same. Yet not many would say degrees are the same wherever you get them from, even in the same degree class. Or are they? If not, shouldn't they be?

cressetmama Thu 18-Aug-16 21:29:39

Degrees will never be equal. Five universities in the UK are ranked Top 100 globally. Access to those is based almost purely on academic success and a great interview, followed by three years' dammed hard work. Then there's the rest of the Russell Group. Good, solid-copper bottomed, but still with some outstanding courses and some very glittery names above the marquee. Then there are other universities, many of them founded in the 60s or transformed from good polytechnics in the early 90s. Lots of them have good courses too, and are well worth the course fees.

There is (I have been told) a university degree in golf course green keeping and maintenance, which has a waiting list for graduates, at starting salaries of £30K plus, globally.

I don't think class or money are a passport to privilege in higher education; it is a market. Art, dance, drama degrees are probably best avoided as unlikely to repay the original investment over a life of working.

MapleandPear Thu 18-Aug-16 21:43:18

But my point is the standards should be equal. Why should universities be allowed to charge students the same as another if the course isn't as good?

MapleandPear Thu 18-Aug-16 21:49:05

As for students working hard, that very much depends on the course. Single honours in one of my subjects: 9 hours a week of lectures/tutorials. I stupidly did two subjects- 21 hours a week. And don't tell me all those single honours students are spending all that extra time in self-study.

TrollTheRespawnJeremy Thu 18-Aug-16 21:58:08

If the course isn't as good, but people are willing to pay then of course they will continue to offer at that price. Universities are businesses. Consumers must weigh up what they are willing to pay in order to gain the end result.

prh47bridge Thu 18-Aug-16 22:00:12

Why should universities be allowed to charge students the same as another if the course isn't as good?

When the coalition increased the maximum tuition fee they expected a market to emerge with universities having to charge less for unpopular courses. It hasn't worked, probably because of the way student loans work. Most universities charge the maximum for most courses.

cressetmama Thu 18-Aug-16 22:05:50

All degrees should deliver what they promise. But, it is a market, and students (and their parents) will probably have to accept that a B Sc in Civil Engineering from, say, Imperial College is going to trump one from Leicester de Montfort. It's like buying private education. Winchester is not going to accept everyone who could afford to pay the fees. What is the course worth? In terms of post-qualification employment (frankly)?

notamummy10 Thu 18-Aug-16 22:15:51

I believe they all do have a high standard of higher education, but it will vary between universities from ratings in the official tables (The Guardian/Independent) to NSS (National Student Survey) to how respectable the university is.

relaxitllbeok Thu 18-Aug-16 22:33:58

Note that the NUS plans to encourage students to boycott NSS next year; it's an experiment that has failed, because NSS scores do not correlate with anything of interest. Look directly at whatever's of interest, whether that's availability of specific courses, staff expertise, location, particular employers visiting to recruit, whatever. Don't fall for bullshit like "the more contact hours the better". Hardly any students turn up for all offered contact hours! University offers opportunities and overwhelmingly you get out what you put in. If what you care about is prestige of the degree, REF rating is a better judge that any of the rankings aimed at potential students.

lionheart Thu 18-Aug-16 22:47:12

I didn't know that about the NSS.

TaIkinPeace Thu 18-Aug-16 23:19:13

What needs to change is that Universities have a financial stake in the outcomes of their students
not my idea by the way, I saw it discussed in the Economist
They should get
60% of the fees when the student arrives
30% when the student starts repaying their loans
10% when the student completes paying their loan

it does not matter what the student studies or works at, but if they earn less than median income all their life, the University should not get the full fees.

Pretty soon Universities will only run degree courses in topics that genuinely benefit from it rather than degrees becoming the default for far too many jobs that would better benefit from on the job training

notamummy10 Fri 19-Aug-16 01:01:03

Talk but universities would suffer financially (and it wouldn't just affect the students, lecturers would be out the job), the government don't give them any funding- hence the £9000 fees.

If the government used the money for taxpayers that was specifically for HE, universities wouldn't have to charge £9000.

I do think University is still a popular choice, that's why there's so much emphasis on clearing... So universities can get bums on seats, essentially universities are now businesses.

I've been at university since 2013 and I love it, sure it's been stressful at times from trying to juggle everything! I'm gutted that my time at university is almost up and I will miss it.

My student debt so far is: £39,550 (this year's student finance will boost it up to £51,550 without interest) but I knew this was going to be the case.

It's a shame about NSS, the survey is very accurate for my degree- and is highly recommended.

peteneras Fri 19-Aug-16 01:08:39

"Five universities in the UK are ranked Top 100 globally."


It's five in top 20!

If it's top 100, then eighteen UK universities.

MachiKoro Fri 19-Aug-16 01:11:46

Surely we should fix universal access education first?

haybott Fri 19-Aug-16 06:44:38

With the advent of the TEF universities will start charging different fees. The fees will be correlated to teaching quality and also to graduate prospects.

Agree with pp that paying only 60% of the fees upfront with the rest maybe never payable = asking higher education staff to take a 40% pay cut. This is not compatible with having world leading universities, particularly when an Oxbridge salary is already about half a typical Harvard salary; a RG professor salary is about 2/3 of what it would be in many other countries.

The issue to fix is government funding, not to lower fees. Home fees already don't cover costs for many courses (with international students making up the gap).

prh47bridge Fri 19-Aug-16 09:54:04

the government don't give them any funding

Yes they do. In 2015/16 the HEFCE distributed £1.36 billion in teaching funding and £1.52 billion in research funding to universities and further education colleges in England. This is all additional to tuition fees.

If the government used the money for taxpayers that was specifically for HE

Absolutely no idea what this means. Taxpayers don't pay anything specifically for HE.

haybott Fri 19-Aug-16 10:33:27

HEFCE pay less than ten percent of costs of teaching.

TaIkinPeace Fri 19-Aug-16 13:05:55

HEFCE pay less than ten percent of costs of teaching.
link please

haybott Fri 19-Aug-16 13:12:12

There are about one and half million undergraduate students. Average cost of course to provide is over 10k (averaging over expensive lab courses and cheaper humanities). 1.5 million x 10k = 15 billion. 1.36 billion is around a tenth of this (but not all of this goes to universities anyhow). Income from fees makes up the rest.

haybott Fri 19-Aug-16 13:16:01

The 1.5 billion in base research costs is also a very small fraction of overall research funding.

By contrast, in most European countries typically more than a half of university income comes directly from government funding. Of the rest a minor part is fees (usually pretty small, apart from fees from international students of whom they usually aren't many at undergraduate level) and the bulk is research income from competitive grants and from industry/business.

cressetmama Fri 19-Aug-16 18:31:27

talkingpeace, that is a brilliant plan!

TaIkinPeace Fri 19-Aug-16 18:49:37

but universities would suffer financially (and it wouldn't just affect the students, lecturers would be out the job), the government don't give them any funding- hence the £9000 fees
Um no. Not true at all. UK Undergrad fees are not that big a part of overall University funding.

And the idea I saw was that it would be phased in 10% of fees at a time so that the universities had time to adjust.

haybott Sat 20-Aug-16 07:36:54

It is just not true to say that university fees are not a big part of university funding. For many departments fees represent about 80% of total income.

For departments which have high research income, the research income pays for researchers in fixed term contracts. It pays only a rather small proportion of permanent academics salaries.

Even a 10% cut In fees would almost immediately be translated into a 5-8% cut in academic salaries. It would be suicidal for our higher education sector to reduce salaries further - they have decreased in real terms by 10% since 2008 already and are much lower than in many other countries. WIth the uncertainties and potential loss of research income due to Brexit the UK is already facing a brain drain (I know of a number of people who are leaving, myself included). This is not a time to mess with fees, reduce salaries and hence increase the brain drain further.

In reality TEF will already have the effect of decreasing the fees in real terms for weaker institutions and it will lead to a multi tier university system (with varying salaries for academics, most likely). The fee level will indicate to prospective students typical graduate outcomes from that university.

titchy Sat 20-Aug-16 10:20:45

Lol at the perception undergraduate fees aren't a big proportion of university income!

titchy Sat 20-Aug-16 10:21:08

Lol at the perception undergraduate fees aren't a big proportion of university income!

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