Are you getting what you pay for?

Once you graduate, under the current system you pay back 9% of your gross income when you earn over the threshold of £15,000 per annum.

The government are reviewing tuition fees, looking to push the cap up to £7,000 per year. The current cap is around £3,000. Each University can charge as much or as little of this as they want, depending on the needs for each course. 

Once you graduate, under the current system you pay back 9% of your gross income when you earn over the threshold of £15,000 per annum. Perhaps the idea of tuition fees is fair. You pay towards your education so that the University can afford lecturers salaries, all the top-notch equipment and hoards of resources for each student to use so they can achieve the very best out of their degree. But in the interest of fairness, what about if certain student requirements aren’t met? 

What if the teaching or facilities aren’t up to scratch? Maybe it would be time to start viewing yourself as a consumer. After all, you pay towards these things, right?

There is a common ethos that those in authority are always right, and always doing best by us. But these people are only human. So yes; your lecturers may slip up.  Standards can drop for whatever reason. The question is; should you foot the bill for it? Your degree is not guaranteed, yet payment is mandatory.

Portions of fees have been claimed back from Universities around the country for varying reasons. Since 2004, London South Bank University has repaid 17 students a total of £30,821. Other Universities, such as Leeds Met and Derby, have also paid back sums of money to their students.

So if you believe you deserve some of your money back, how would you go about doing it?

Keep a running diary of any seminars or lecturers that have been cancelled. Make sure you keep a note of the date and time of each one. Using your course fee, you should be able to work out roughly how much each one of these costs you, giving you an idea of how much you have lost out on. 

Also, the standards which your lecturers and tutors provide should be questioned. Do they mark work on time, how is the quality of their lessons, is there a consensus that the standard of teaching is not up to scratch? Obviously you can’t go around launching witch-hunts on people you don’t like. But if there is genuine concern that you aren’t getting what you need then you have every right to hold that person to account. 

If you don’t believe that your facilities are up to standard, write down where you think there are shortfalls. Do some research towards this, looking at the facilities other universities have for the same course, assessing their fees, and seeing if you are paying a similar amount for less of a service.

It could help if there is a group of you complaining. With more of you, you can back each other up. You might like to write a detailed letter of complaint, outlining every qualm you have with your course and get all those who feel the same to sign it.

Don’t forget that you have every right to demand the standards that your fees necessitate. However, with this right comes responsibility. This shouldn’t be a money grabbing exercise. It’s about getting what you pay for.

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