Education & Family

Tuition fees: To cut or not to cut?

As Ed Miliband pledges to cut university tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000 a year, we gathered the views of some undergraduates from a number of universities.

Manal, 21, a third-year politics and international relations student in London, says she likes the plan to cut fees to £6,000.

She says: "I don't mind if they are going to reduce fees for other people as long as these people are going to benefit. This will be an improvement for them.

"A government has to do something for its people because after all we are paying a lot of taxes in this country already.

"I think the government should help people.

"In London, no matter how much you have, most people just can't afford it."

Poppy Wade, a first-year student in High Wycombe, says daily living is her main concern.

She says: "Students simply cannot survive on the maintenance loan being supplied. The way the funding is worked out is completely wrong.

"Instead of assuming that because parents make a certain amount of money they can provide for children in higher education, their spending at the end of the month once all things such as bills, food, fuel, etc, have been paid for should be evaluated, so that they can see how much a family is left to live off before they then have to think about sending money to a child at university.

"I get £20 a month in pocket money and that is what I live off. I currently have no food to eat at my flat and am also worrying how I am going to scrape together a deposit for a house later this year when it will come down to that or eating, and politicians wonder why students aren't voting."

Sean, 20, a first-year radio production student in London, approves of the fee cut but is concerned about how it will go down with non-students.

He says: "I think it's a risky one for getting votes because there will have to be some cuts as a result elsewhere.

"The Liberal Democrats lost a great deal of their reputation because they promised to scrap fees and then they made them £9,000 a year.

"If they cut from pensions then they will lose a lot of votes from pensioners.

"Every generation looks to blame the generation before.

"There's a lot less jobs and fewer prospects. We have to work harder but I do feel these richer pensioners should pay a bit more."

Rebecca, a student in Manchester, says the problem for students is more living costs than fees.

"We don't face the debt of the fees as it is paid fully to the university without ever coming anywhere near our bank accounts.

"The problem we have is with high living costs.

"My halls cost over £5,000 per year, and the house I will be living in next year will cost me about £4,500.

"That is just rent - not to mention I need to eat, buy books, pay for transport, wash my clothes and so on.

"This isn't even including socialising, it's simply living costs.

"The money I receive from the student loans company is around £3,600 per year. This doesn't even cover my rent!

"This is because the student loan is 'means tested' - my mum and dad's income combined is above the threshold for me to receive any more money."

Ron, 23, second-year criminal justice student from Lithuania studying in London, pays £9,000 a year for his course.

He says: "It would definitely be better if the fees were lower because they are already too high.

"I know how much you pay back is going to depend on your wage and salary level and it will take a long time to pay this back.

"It worries me because I don't want to be in debt. It's a bit too much.

"It will be good for the students in the future but I want to be sure that universities will have enough money, that there will be as much funding."

Neel Rokad, a first-year law student in Exeter, thinks the current system is far too expensive.

He says: "As a current undergraduate I would of course welcome a cut in fees, but would want to know if it will apply retrospectively and therefore reduce the fees I have already paid to £6,000.

"I've been paying £9,000 a year so it would be the equivalent of a whole year's study cost back for me. Having seen my sister go though the old fees system, also studying law, has opened my eyes.

"There is a a lot of mileage in this pledge by Labour. I don't always agree with a lot of what Labour says but this would make me consider voting for them.

"A lot of students were happy to pay more than £3,000 for their education but £9,000 is too much."

Matt is a third-year business studies student in Nottingham. He has mixed feelings about the pledge.

"It's great that fees might be lowered but what happens to the students who have already paid £9,000 fees?

"There seems to have been no thought given to the four years' worth of students like myself who will, under these plans, be left having paid the full tuition fees while age groups before and after will pay less.

"I was against the increase in tuition fees and went on protests against the increase while I was in college."

Charlie, 23, second-year criminology student in London, backs Labour's policy.

"The quality of education here is great, but I really think we are paying too much.

"The majority of students at this university are from working-class backgrounds like myself and it is worrying to think we will be coming out of here with all of this debt. This could add up to £45,000 or £50,000.

"Everyone has the right to education and these fees segregate students. I support a policy of reducing the fees as much as possible."

More on this story