In this article, Financielle team member Lucy shares her personal thoughts on the cost of her education.

With a year and a half of online lectures, socially distanced accommodation and quiet nights in, university isn’t what it used to be. With the ‘experience’ aspect taken out of it, what are you actually getting your degree for? And what does student debt mean for the future?  

As a Journalism graduate who has spent the last four years racking up a student debt totalling around £73,000, every day I question if my degree was worth it. Making these decisions at the ripe age of 18, I was filled with information from my sixth form tutors that “student loan is good debt” and “it will be worth it for the job at the end”. Little did I know I would be spending the last year and a half sitting in my student accommodation watching every lecture from my laptop screen and attending a virtual graduation ceremony. 

Just like most young people, I had no idea that my student loan could affect me getting a mortgage in the future. I assumed because it doesn’t show up on my credit report, it wouldn’t be an issue when the time comes to buying my castle. Shock, I was wrong. A student loan is just like all other expenses that are accounted for when applying for a mortgage, so the amount being paid back could affect what I will be able to afford. This is something that was majorly glazed over by my sixth-form tutors.

Whilst I do, retrospectively, understand that my degree was worth it, I can’t help but think if I could be further on in my career if I’d have started four years ago. Yes, I gained experience throughout my time at university, and I learned a lot that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t choose to go but was it really worth all that debt? 

University has been the norm for post-college plans in recent years, but I think the pandemic has been the change we needed. According to a survey from the Higher Education Policy Institute, almost half of current students say that their degree offered poor value for money this year, you can include me in that. We’ve had no access to proper equipment, or the buildings needed in order to carry out assignments, I even had to produce a whole magazine from my phone camera. I can’t help but wonder what my tuition fees paid for. 

Just to top it off, the unemployment rate for recent graduates in England aged 21-30 increased to 6.3% in 2020. The prospect of securing a stable job in the current market seems slim and the uncertainty is threatening. Students are in more need than ever for employment help, something universities should be responsible for. 

With the job market looking bleak and unstable, I even considered studying a master’s just to put off getting into “the real world”, and it seems like I wasn’t the only one. Many institutions in the UK have reported higher numbers of applicants for post graduate degrees this year, this might have something to do with fewer graduate schemes and entry-level jobs being available. 

Whilst the first two years of my degree felt completely worth it, I was getting the proper university experience, the latter two left me somewhat underwhelmed. Is university now solely online lectures? Is there any need to move away from home? Is the degree worth the debt? These are my £73,000 questions. 

Lucy Whisker

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