The average Undergraduate University Course in England costs a student – regardless of social class - £9,000 per year, adding up to a daunting £27,000 for the three years altogether. This, on top of other student debts such as the Maintenance loan, means the average student finishes their Degree with around ‘£40,000’ of Debt (Crawford and Jin 2012), according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The concept of walking out into the working world with tens of thousands of pounds of debt is a specific problem for this generation and those in the future. I want to argue that it is not feasible to make young people accept this level of debt, in return for a service people of the same age twenty, thirty and forty years ago effectively received for free.

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As well as discussing purely the economic aspect of #Tuition Fees, the psychological impact of a young person being in this much debt will be also be highlighted.

The concept of walking out into the working world with tens of thousands of pounds of debt is a specific problem for this generation and those in the future. I want to argue that it is not feasible to make young people accept this level of debt, in return for a service people of the same age twenty, thirty and forty years ago effectively received for free. As well as discussing purely the economic aspect of tuition fees, the psychological impact of a young person being in this much debt will be also be highlighted.

Punishing excellence

If we focus on the average student – the person, not the statistic – then you cannot ignore that the system is simply not fair.

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The average starting salary for a University graduate will reach £30,000 in 2015, but the average student will not be able to pay back their debt in full for almost 24 years, which past generations could go straight into the working world free from any financial debt, no matter what class degree – if any – they received.

As Allen and Ainley argue in Regeneration (2012), ‘the current generation of young people have become the most highly qualified ever’, but despite this, ‘this generation is likely to be the first to end up with lower standards of living than their parents’. How can this be fair? This generation is arguably smarter than the last, but it is being punished, it seems. You should be able to receive a University education as a result of hard work and good grades (GCSEs, A Levels or BTECs), then as a result of tuition fees. Britain today, the latter is very much apparent.

Graeme Archer hits the nail on the head for The Telegraph, arguing that a ‘British university education is a privilege, not a “right”’.

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In other words, in our current society, it matters not that you are a genius, if you cannot afford University, you hit a brick wall. As a society, we need to address this ‘phenomenon’ by abolishing this tax on the youth.

It’s the blatant deception by certain governments that disgusts most young people which result in such a low youth turnout in elections; just 44 of 18-24-year-olds voted in 2010 (Ipsos MORI, 2010). Sean Coughlan wrote for the BBC News website, documenting Ed Miliband’s pledge to ‘cut university tuition fees in England to £6,000 per year from autumn 2016’ if #Labour won the 2015 General Election. It’s all well and good trying to connect with the younger voter, seemingly caring for problems such as high tuition fees, but people have short memories.

After all, it was Labour who introduced tuition fees in the first place. As Peter Oborne documents in The Rise of Political Lying (2005), in the lead up to the 1997 General Election, Tony Blair claimed Labour had ‘no plans to introduce tuition fees for higher education.’ In 1998, after gaining power, Labour introduced the Teaching and Higher Education Act, which introduced tuition fees. Miliband’s ‘pledge’ may just be History repeating itself. Who’s to say if Labour did come into power, it would not just turn its back on its promises again or go one step further and raise fees? This generation has been lied to, and we need to make sure future generations do not receive the same treatment.

The person behind the statistic

All the talk about the ‘youth’ as a collective fails to acknowledge the individual behind the numbers. We know University Students must pay back an overwhelming debt, but the very real feeling of anxiety and/or depression goes relatively unspoken, and it can be fatal. Despite the introduction of University ‘well-being’ divisions, and their sadly helpless attempts to be ‘welcoming’ and ‘confidential’ with students and their personal problems, some people just genuinely feel as if they are doomed from the day they walk through the University doors on day one.

One such case is that of Toby Thorne. Simon Hattenstone of the Guardian documents the fatal consequence of overwhelming tuition fee debt on a student named Toby Thorn. He writes about a young student named Toby Thorne, who committed suicide after failing to come to terms with his University debt. ‘23-year-old [Toby] Thorn couldn’t cope with his debt’, Hattenstone writes. He elaborates: ‘the bank had just informed him he would not be able to withdraw any more money. When he died, he was £3,000 overdrawn and had a £5,000 student loan to pay off.’ The case of Toby Thorne may be specific, but it is not an anomaly by any means. Read news stories every week and there will be a story similar to this and it needs to be addressed.

Tuition fees are totally unfeasible, both economically, and in terms of the wellbeing of young people. For the ‘most highly qualified [generation] ever’ to be burdened with such a substantial debt, it just goes to show how ridiculous the current system is, and has been for years. It is not as if students have necessarily accepted tuition fees without a fight. Demonstrations by the NUS when tuition fees were initially introduced, followed by many other protests have taken place, with little or no success.

Despite talk of apparent reductions in tuition fees by Political leaders, it will remain to be seen whether those at the top will actually take note of the gripes and grimes of young people in June. As Judith Burns documented for the BBC News website, ‘Students could tip the balance of power at the next general election’, and that young people ‘could affect the outcome in about 10 constituencies.’ If politicians want to get the youth vote, they should seriously consider giving something back.

This article doesn't even get to the issue of what to do after Graduation.... #Conservitives