With year 13 students across the country beginning to contemplate student finance in particular, one seemingly obvious question comes to mind : ‘Should we have to pay for our education?’. This is asked by students and parents alike across the country, especially whilst considering whether the hefty private school and university fees, often running into their thousands, are worth it. With a world increasingly focused upon the value and benefits of education, does this price tag merely come with these changing attitudes?


With the infamous 2012 change to a cap of £9000 per academic year of university, some may find it strange that the application rate for English-resident 18 year-olds was at a record high in January 2015, according to government statistics. This suggests that despite financial obstacles standing in the way of many young people, most of whom would be unable to pay the fees upfront, such fees have not acted as a deterrent to go to university. In fact, it could be said that this has increased the prestigious nature of going to a higher education institution, further adding to its value. Indeed, the effects of this can be seen in the fact that the average graduate in 2015 will earn a starting salary of £26,000, which is 4% more than what graduates were earning in 2009.


But is a degree really necessary for a well-paid job in the future? Nomis (an organisation offering information from the Office for National Statistics) revealed that in 2012, only 34.3% of the working population aged 16 to 64 had a degree (or equivalent). In fact, www.plotr.co.uk has published a list of the 10 highest paying jobs you don’t need a degree for, including marketing and sales managers (earning up to £100,000 a year) and air controllers (earning up to £91,000).Alongside this, the majority of those without a degree may have less debt, considering that the average Masters degree is 4 years or even more. With apprenticeship opportunities booming, many evidently view other routes after A-levels as being just as viable as going to university. The minimum wage in an apprenticeship is always a plus too.


Here at Wallington High School for Girls, just like at the majority of other Sixth Forms across the country, the deadlines for student finance and university applications are looming, meaning that the current 200 Year 13 students at the school will have to take all the above factors into account. 


So whether gaining unforgettable life experiences at university or saving money is your motivation, it can be seen that the majority of people are split as to whether we should have to pay for education. Even with the help of loans, the average person can expect to be repaying their university fees well into their 40s. However, the perception of university being a gateway to a better future still remains, and people are still paying for it. 


Alicja Monaghan - Wallington High School for Girls