Half of UK university students think degree is poor value for money

This being the point of charging them, to encourage these thoughts. At which point we should double the fees again so as to end up with only 25% of the current lot – so about 12% of the age cohort – thinking they’re reasonable value and thus going. Which is about the right number, 10 to 15% of the age cohort……

31 thoughts on “Cool!”

  1. ” thinking they’re reasonable value and thus going. Which is about the right number”

    …… unfortunately the academic “cream” is then composed entirely of those too dim to realise it’s terribly poor value for money.

  2. The Meissen Bison

    Rachel Hall can’t write so her degree was poor value for money but that aside the article says that students think that they received poor value for money last academic year which, given that they were locked into their hutches and had scant tuition, is hardly surprising.

    The broader point addressed in this post is interesting: what do students think that they are buying and what are taxpayers getting for their money when graduates fail to meet the pay threshold for reimbursing the Student Loans organisation?

    Why would a bright youngster want to immerse himself in an intolerant intellectual monoculture where the teachers pander to the ill-informed prejudices of the students.

  3. “Why would a bright youngster want to immerse himself in an intolerant intellectual monoculture where the teachers pander to the ill-informed prejudices of the students?”

    Well, there is the possibility of getting laid.

  4. I’d love to see a male vs female split. My guess is more women than men think this, but don’t really care too much because they’ll repay almost nothing of their history or english degree.

  5. decnine
    An insult to women. It’s not hard even for a plain girl to get laid. Exceptions such as Sarah Lawrence or Ballet school prove the rule.

  6. TMB,

    “Why would a bright youngster want to immerse himself in an intolerant intellectual monoculture where the teachers pander to the ill-informed prejudices of the students.”

    There’s a big split between the serious courses and the rest. There’s no woke agenda in biomed, physics or computer science.

  7. Which is about the right number, 10 to 15% of the age cohort……

    Not saying you’re wrong, but is that an economic argument? Ideological? Philosophical? Why is there a correct percentage and what makes that range appropriate? We know the percentage was smaller during medieval times than in the 1960s and 70s; can it be higher when we all have our own 3D printers making our own robot slaves?

  8. Just a rule of thumb. 90% of us are bumblers at any one thing. Therefore we shouldn’t be doing it. Sport, academia, cooking, business, woodworking, whatever. Sturgeon’s Law isn’t it? 90% of everything is shit?

  9. Being old and over-educated, I’ve had a spread of experience on this.

    My first degree – a BEng(Hons) in Mechanical Engineering – was completed in the early 1990s, at a former polytechnic (one which had always been a strong engineering school) and my fees were paid by the State. Since it was free-at-point-of-use I’d call it excellent value to me, but it let me walk straight into a good job and the start of a career.

    My second degree was a MSc in Systems Engineering, which my employer paid both the fees for, and gave me paid leave for the taught modules (the assessments and dissertation were “in your own time, go on”.) Again, free to me fiscally (though it did take over my life for eighteen months or so), but it was extremely valuable and gave me a significant boost in my profession – both for what I learned, and having a bit of paper to prove I’d been so taught. My then-employer might beg to differ, since as I completed the degree I was told that “of course there’s very little opportunity for advancement in the foreseeable future” just as another organisation made me a better offer…

    And finally, I did a “hobby degree”, a MA in Intelligence and International Relations, by distance learning a few years ago. Cost me a bit less than four thousand pounds in course fees over the three years, which I paid for myself, plus – as with the MA – a lot of evening/weekend effort. I’d expected it to be interesting and informative, and it was, so on that basis alone I got my money’s worth; but it also contributed to another career boost that’s seen me doing very nicely. Was it solely responsible? Don’t know, but certainly seemed to help.

    But in each case, I invested at least the time (and in the third, some of my own cash) in studies that I saw as adding value, either (young and broke) boosting my job prospects or (older, wealthier) learning and qualifying in an area that interested me: I could see how they’d make me more useful and employable, able to command a higher salary, or just be a value-for-money entertainment that ended with a qualification.

    But in every case, I looked at my options, picked what looked promising, and pursued it: if it hadn’t worked I’d have looked for alternatives (if the MA had turned into “capitalism bad, CIA evil, all hail our benevolent socialist overlords” I’d have sacked it off sharpish, for instance, and see how hard they chased the first year’s fees before handing over a penny).

    If you’re on a degree course that isn’t value for money (and the Guardian’s own graph shows this isn’t new or surprising, but a trend over years) then why aren’t you doing something about it? Change to a course that is value for money. Drop out and get a job (don’t sit around doing a four-year course in “Sports Centre Management”, go work at an actual sports centre! Yes, I’ve seen CVs with that qualification!).

    Putting a cost on the degree was ostensibly meant to encourage that sort of thinking: it seems to have stultified it instead.

  10. Just a rule of thumb.

    I strongly suspect your thumb is correct, but we can’t base policy on gut feelings. It needs proper study at university level with sufficient funding. A few tens of millions should narrow this particular rule of thumb down to about 11.27%.

  11. The value of a degree is its scarcity, so a 15% cohort sounds right. Also, you’re sadly mistaken if you think there’s no wokery in STEM. Check the sad Twitter history of Field’s Medalist and Cambs. math prof Tim Gowers arguing 2+2 doesn’t necessarily equal 4 because… racial justice. Eventually, everyone genuflects to social justice.

  12. A degree would be a waste of money free. It’s the knowledge has value.
    (Not saying anyone understand that, nowadays)

  13. Poor value for money? Who are the dim ones here. 95% will probably never earn enough to pay back their student loans and they know this – we poor suckers will pick up the tab.

  14. “Which is about the right number, 10 to 15% of the age cohort …”

    Pah, you youngsters! If you were my age you’d think that about 5% was the right number. Or a good bit fewer since the schools have been embuggered since my day.

  15. @Jason Lynch

    “Being old and over-educated…

    My first degree – a BEng(Hons) in Mechanical Engineering – was completed in the early 1990s”

    Oh please. Don’t do this to me.

    My degree was completed in 1984 and I am desperately clinging to the delusion that I am still young. I do NOT want reality to destroy that delusion.

  16. One thing that worries me about fees is that for some degrees e.g. History, Physics and Chemistry it probably isn’t worth going to uni financially.
    However a country in which no one studies Physics or Chemistry would have lots of problems.
    One solution of course would be for it to be free and give grants.
    For history I think we should import Hungarian history teachers – they seem to have a best grasp of history than we do anyway.

  17. Yer all wrong. WE don’t have to do anything beyond freeing universities from government control and funding. In a site like this, what’s wrong with a recommendation to let the market decide. A free market without the government’s thumb on the scales.

  18. Ah rhoda, that was what the more far-sighted dons argued when the University Grants Commission was introduced in 1918.
    WKPD: “a mechanism to channel funds to universities, which had … suffered from neglect and lack of funding during the First World War”

    Funny that, I might have added that they were in difficulty because their students had largely gone off to war.

    Obvs they should have been funded by reparations from Germany but the namby-pamby Versailles Treaty let Germany off too lightly.

  19. It seems to me that there are many different ways to make a comfortable living. I did an apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic in the late 1970s. I never got to make big money but, in the eighties when unemployment was a constant problem, I was never out of work for long.

    Many years later I had a colleague who, along with his wife, would buy tatty houses, renovate them and sell them on. He had a full time job and a very lucrative side line. He eventually retired his day job and bequeathed a property developement business to his sons.

    My next door neighbour is something of a polymath. He is a qualified chef. His wife has a holiday cottage that she rents out. He buys broken stuff, fixes it and sells it on. He bought a VW pickup that had light front end damage and fixed it up so that it looked like new. This was for his own use but it meant that he got the gig for repairing another similar pickup for a guy who had lightly front ended his and had seen the job that he had done on his.

    Clever resourceful people will always be in demand.

  20. I forgot to mention Quakers. Their problem was that, in olden times, only those who declared CofE to be their religion were allowed to go to university. So they built chocolate factories instead.

  21. The Quakers could have done what English and Irish Presbyterians did: go to a Scottish university. For a large chunk of Olden Times they were better than Oxbridge anyway. The resurrection of Oxford and Cambridge as good, indeed excellent, universities was a remarkable feat by the Victorians. Prince Albert played a leading role in some of the reforms. It’s striking that the internal reformers needed outside help. Institutions are often like that.

  22. The Meissen Bison

    I fear that Dominic Cummings is merely a failed Dominic Cummings who proves the lie to the addage that it were better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.

  23. Wealthy Vice Chancellor

    The fees were supposed to create a market where the great universities like Cambridge and Hull charge top whack and the former polys will do your basic Comp Sci for a monkey (that’s £500, not a racial reference). There must some cartelly shenanigans preventing this and the DoE ought to have nobbled them over it.

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