University tuition fees: The good, the bad and the.. misguided?

Recently, 580,000 students opened up their A-level results (by the way, congratulations to them!) and over 190,000 students scrambled into clearing to get a place at university. The 2011 university intake is of course the last year under the old system of tuition fees and so the many arguments for and against the new system has fired up again. But amongst all the riff raff, what are the real facts about this new system? Are people misguided about exactly what will happen?

Thumbs up?

Firstly, some people believe that students will have to pay their tuition fees upfront. In fact, in a recent poll conducted by the Sutton Trust, one third of children believe they would need to pay their tuition fees upfront. This is not the case. Under the new system, students will NOT have to pay anything upfront which is of course welcomed. Once they have graduated, they then do not need to pay back their loans until they earn at least £21,000 compared to the £15,000 in the old system. Many also believe that they will have to pay back more under this system, again this is not the case. In fact, it is also estimated that 80% of women and 40% of men will not pay back their loans at all with their debts being written off after 30 years. Additionally, the increased fees also mean that grants will increase. This doesn't seem all bad...does it?

The other side

The question is, how many people know these facts? For instance, the ultimate issue being discussed is the idea that poorer students will be at a disadvantage with the new system. In a recent survey, 35% of students from poor backgrounds suggested that they would not go to university if tuition fees were above £7,000. This is clearly bad. However, it is yet unclear on exactly what the government plans to do to tackle this. One suggestion are for rules to be placed that means universities that have a low proportion of under-represented students may have to spend 30% of fees above £6,000 to fund projects that will help recruit and support students from poorer backgrounds. But have you heard this?

In all, whether you are for or against the new system, there has been a lot of misguided information that is very conflicting. As such, it is hard to fully decide if this new system is good or bad when not all of the information is available or has been muddled up. What do you think of the government's plans? Are you aware of all of the facts about the new system? Let us know of your thoughts!
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