With the cost of a degree rising to £7,000-£9,000 an academic year to what extent will this discourage future students from continuing their education onto university level? And if so, what will this mean to current graduates and undergraduates?

According to UCAS, university applications have been on the rise since their records began in 1996, a time when there were no tuition fees at all in the UK. It seems quite plausible that an increase in tuition fees by almost threefold could deter future potential graduates but will that be the case or is university engrained in our society so heavily that people will take on higher education whatever the cost?

The most sensible way to assess this is to ask whether a degree costing most people £21-28k just in tuition fees is worth it, or rather will possible students think it's worth it? According to LoveMoney, a degree is worth varying amounts depending on what subject it is in; over one's lifetime you can expect to earn anything from £35,000 more (if you're an arts graduate) to £340,000 for graduates of medicine.

Now, although these are very casual figures, most will see that herein lies a problem for arts graduates. If a degree can cost up to £28,000 plus accommodation fees then you're not going to be getting much back for studying the arts, in fact you could be making a net loss. Whack a foundation year or a year in industry onto your degree and you could be facing tuition debt of £36,000. Which could lead those who are very talented in arts orientated subjects to ask "Well, what's the point?"

And that would be a great shame not just for them, but for the country. We would get less academics that advance human knowledge and progress society and you could argue the state of UK universities would decrease, despite them having a lot more cash to splash.

Yet, if we look at similar instances in the past the reverse is true. Tuition fees of £3,000 were introduced by the previous government for the academic year beginning 2007, yet that year received more applications than 2006, complying with the positive trend. 2008 had even more applications and so did 2009. So why should we assume that because the fees have been raised that less people will want to go to university, especially when the transition from free higher education to paid had no significant effect?

In the press we have heard a lot of people saying how "youngsters" "these days" simply expect to go to university, as if it is a rite of passage and a necessary part of growing up in Western life. Regardless of whether this should or should not be the case, it could explain why prices seem to have little effect on application figures. Or maybe people feel that the cost is still worth the experience and the overall career benefits (i.e. going straight into a graduate job).

Is a price tag of around £35,000 too much for a degree? Is the current price actually too much? Or is it good that people are paying for their education and funding our prestigious educational institutions? Finally, will the rise in tuition fees lead to the first instance of less university applications than the previous year for some time?