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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Universities across the pond in trouble

Nothing is more important than encouraging education. Adults educating themselves about politics, current events or a healthy lifestyle; children learning basic reading, writing and arithmetic; young adults wondering what to study at a university level — everyone has something to learn, and everyone should be awarded an opportunity to do so, socioeconomic class aside.

Students in England and Wales will not have that opportunity anymore if they come from low-income families. Due to the 2015 budget that the British governmenthas put into place, all grants for low-income university students will be cut. With the grants cut, student aid will come from loans and sparse dispersal of scholarship funds. These welfare cuts are aimed to secure Britain’s future and economy, but is a detrimental decision that simply will not work.

Grants are given to students from low-income families so that they are able to study and work without relying financially on their parents. The grants are awarded to students on a sliding scale that is dependent on the family’s yearly income and these grants do not have to be repaid once their degree is completed, unlike student loans.

Lydia Bagley, a student from Cambridge University, was entitled to receive £3,700 (approximately $5,300) yearly through government grants to help pay for the £9,000/year cost of tuition. She also receives other funding through Cambridge to make tuition an accessible and affordable thing for her family. As a bright, multilingual and motivated student, she deserves to study in a university as prestigious (and expensive) as Cambridge, but without the grants she receives, she simply would not be able to study.

Bagley agrees that conservative budget cuts like these drive a wedge further between socioeconomic classes and heighten the elite over the underprivileged more and more. Students who already come from low-income families will likely be deterred by the notion of debt after graduation. This causes them to postpone applying for universities or causes them to not apply at all in favor of entry-level work.

Students in the United States are facing the similar issues with their college tuition. With no real cap on tuition increases by universities and a lack of scholarship funding for everyone who deserves it, students are forced to take out massive loans in order to fund their education.

Years after students have a degree and career, they are still pinned down under crushing debt from their loans. This demotivates students from studying where they would like, or even studying at all. As a resident of Arizona, my tuition prices are manageable for my family, but had I wanted to study at a university out of state, I would have been forced to take out student loans to cover the extreme cost of tuition for non-residents.

If this trend of rising tuition prices and decreasing student aid continues, it won’t be long before only the elite will be able to access university-level education, bringing Britain and the United States back into a stark two-tiered society comprised of the rich and the poor and the educated and the uneducated. This stratification will result in a generation of young adults who will not have the opportunity to change their class standing through education or employment.

The job market will consequently suffer from a lack of educated workers; college graduates won’t be able to effectively contribute to the job market and economy due to their seemingly non-repayable debt. Both the United Kingdom and the United States are taking large strides away from a prosperous economic future.

Universities should be accessible to any students who strive to educate themselves. Education should not be a luxury that is available only to the elite classes. Cutting welfare and grant support now may seem like a pragmatic option for the British government, but it will ultimately fail. The money it saves now will pale in comparison to the cost of saving the future economy — an economy stricken with a depleted job market and uneducated adults.

Follow Nicole Rochon on Twitter

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