Graduates put off uni by fees increase

DEMO2012, protesting the fees increase. Photo: Rebekah Ruddock

Many Cumbria University graduates wouldn’t have received their degrees had they been affected by the fees increase.

After collecting their degrees at Carlisle Cathedral, some graduates told The Informer how they might not have bothered at all if they had to pay triple tuition fees, and some graduates from north of the border said they would have opted to study in Scotland.

Dani Horton, a scottish Graphic Design graduate from Kirkmichael, who now freelances with Cumbria County Council, said that despite the course being one of the best in the country, she would have studied back at home if she was starting a course this year, as the quality of the Brampton Road campus facilities wouldn’t be worth the higher costs: “I wouldn’t have come here for nine grand. We hardly have a shop, we hardly have a library, we hardly have any facilities at all and hardly any student union.”

Nick Samson, a graduate in Photography, wasn’t sure whether he would have gone to university or not. He said: “I would have thought about other options more I think”.

“To be honest, I’m not even going to be able to pay [the loan] back even if I was earning 25 grand a year. I wouldn’t be able to pay back the interest.”

Jan Laird from Cumnock, who graduated with a degree in Fine Art, said: “It was a good course and I enjoyed it, so it was worth coming here, but I think it would have been quite expensive, compared to Scotland”.

Erin Tulloch from Ayr, who also studied Fine Art, said that she’s not sure she would have studied in Cumbria under the new fees regime: “I probably would have thought about going somewhere closer to home.” She added: “It’s difficult to say, but it would have been a big thought.”

Julie Bull from Blackpool, who studied MA Applied Arts part time as a mature student, who has gone on to win two awards for textile design in magazines, criticized the new fees system, as well as saying her Arts course has now been cut by the university. She said that it was “a real shame”, adding: “I’m so glad I did it when I did, apparently the whole department is going.”

On the subject of fees she said: “I just about managed to afford it when I did. With those tuition fees now I’d have never of done that.”

However not all students would have been put off studying following the tripling of fee’s in England.

Hugh Leardson, who also studied Graphic design wasn’t as concerned about higher fees as some students. Asked if he still would have come to study in Cumbria, he said: “Yes, because the Isle of Man would have paid for my tuition.”

Rev Pat Smith, who works as an Assistant Curate and graduated with a BA in Practical Theology with the Lancashire and Cumbria Theological Partnership, would have still studied in higher education, saying: “the diocese pay for my fees, so it wasn’t a consideration.”

She added: “I think it is a concern for young people certainly. I think it will definitely put young people off going.”

Andy Hamilton

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