Category Archives: Student Debt

I put up tuition fees. It’s now clear they have to be scrapped – Andrew Adonis. 

How did we get from the idea of a reasonable contribution to the cost of university tuition – the principle of the Blair reform of 2004, for which I was largely responsible – to today’s Frankenstein’s monster of £50,000-plus debts for graduates on modest salaries who can’t remotely afford to pay back these sums while starting families?

And why did we give university vice-chancellors a licence to print money, and pay themselves £400,000 salaries, in a decade when austerity has dominated every other public service, including schools and hospitals?

It is a morality tale of opportunism and greed on the part of vice-chancellors, and one thing leading to another, in a typically unplanned British way, on the part of successive governments.

It all began 30 years ago, with seriously underfunded universities trying to work out a survival strategy in the face of Margaret Thatcher’s dislike of all things public sector – particularly universities, after Oxford refused to grant her an honorary degree in 1985. In an act of semi-privatisation, the Thatcher government removed controls on fees for international students.

This deregulation soon established a vibrant market for students from overseas, giving higher education a vital source of non-state income. It also converted the vice-chancellors to the cause of fees for home students.

Debt levels for new graduates are now so high that the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that three-quarters of graduates will never pay it all back.

… The Guardian

Paying back student loan a hard road – Jack Tame. 

I was one of the lucky ones and I still owed 30 grand.

Sure, I’ll concede some of my student loan could be blamed on my average discipline. I probably didn’t need so many scone-and-coffees or nights out. But though I worked part time while studying at university, at $8000 a year for tuition, it took me years to pay off my debt.

Still, I had it easy compared to my siblings. My three brothers and sisters all studied at university away from home, and to whatever their undergraduate degrees cost was added the expense of dorm halls and flats.

Mum and Dad were incredibly generous, but the total expense for the four Tame children to live and study at university would border on $250,000. Some of my friends have individually racked up six-figure student loans.

It used to be you went to university if you had the marks and smarts.

Neither of my parents paid for university tuition, and my mum received a stipend to study teaching in the early 1980s.

Now, even if you excel in high school, university students and their families face potential decades of debt.

I’m 30, and between tuition and property prices, it’s easy to resent the ease with which baby boomers cruised by the financial impasses of my generation.

That is, of course, unless Mum and Dad are able to come to the rescue.

But what percentage of Kiwi families can comfortably afford to shell out $30,000 for their child’s undergraduate degree?

What percentage can afford to fund multiple children through university?

Baby boomers might have bought cheap houses and attended uni for free, but I’d argue most of them couldn’t comfortably afford to help their children do the same thing. Successful, educated, debt-free kids are status symbols in our unequal society.

I cleared my student loan. I don’t resent having to pay for university. But then I was one of lucky ones.

An awful lot of Kiwis have to get a long way behind for the chance to get ahead.

NZ Herald

Germany scraps tuition fees after mass student protests cause shift in public opinion. 

After experimenting with tuition fees, all the federal German states have been persuaded to reverse their decision. In the UK and US, there is no political will to change the policies which are blighting whole generations. The only way forward is to copy German protest movements.

The world’s fourth largest economy, Germany, has abolished all higher education tuition fees after flirting with the system for a few years. The contrast could not be greater with both the United States and the United Kingdom, which has largely aped the US model with potentially disastrous results.

In the US, tuition costs have risen 500% since 1985 and those who borrowed for a bachelor’s degree granted in 2012 owe an average of US$29,400. Some 40 million Americans are paying back US$1.2 trillion in outstanding student debt. US senator Elizabeth Warren, who is campaigning to lower fees, says the burden is stopping young Americans from buying homes and cars, or starting small businesses. Meanwhile, existing federal financial aid to students is poorly targeted, with half of federal tuition tax credits going to the wealthiest 20%. Economy Watch