The costs of university

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From Tracy Coombes and Lauren Barnett.

THE following facts may be of interest to the parents of a child wishing to attend university in the future:

• Fees currently charged to UK students for a classroom-based course are £3,225 pa and for the same course for Jersey students the figure is £8,240 pa (laboratory and clinical fees are even higher).

• Jersey students have to pay £5,000 pa more than a French or Spanish student – EU students pay the same fees as a UK student. Is this fair?

• lMaintenance grant for those lucky enough to receive a grant is £5,000 pa but, if you were to take into account the accommodation costs of approx £4,000 pa, does this mean our government is saying that £1,000 is enough to feed a student and pay flights, travel, books, laundry, telephone and insurances, etc? I don’t think so! Actually, the cost is closer to £8,000 pa.

• The Isle of Man government pay all the tuition fees for all their students regardless of income. The maintenance grant is means-tested. Maybe this is what Jersey should do.

• Did you know that in some divorced families the main carer/parent can receive a full grant based on a lone-parent assessment which does not take into consideration the ex-partner’s income (even when this is substantial). Is this fair?

• Jersey does not have the privilege of a university. Therefore we have no choice but to send our students to the UK.

• The current cost to send one student on a three-year classroom- based course including maintenance is approximately £16,000 pa (double this if you have two attending at the same time). Therefore the total cost to complete the course would be £48,000 for one student, £96,000 for two and so on.

• The UK government are looking at their fees and possibly increasing these in the future. Does this mean our fees will increase further?

• Those who pay income tax have less chance to get any subsidy than those who don’t pay/work, who get the fees paid in full and a grant.

• Jersey bases the assessment on the parents’ income, whereas the UK base it on the ability of a child. We realise that UK students take out a loan but in Jersey we are not given that choice.

I wonder if this is an issue for human rights, because each child should be given equal opportunities, as for students in the UK. It is not right that a Jersey student cannot go to university because their parents cannot afford it. This is why a grant should be available to all children, not just when they are 25 years old.

We welcome the article in the JEP on Tuesday 3 November regarding Scrutiny to review university fees.

If there is not a serious review of the law, some may feel that the only way forward would be to give up their job, go on benefits or maybe separate from their husband to get the fees paid and awarded the grant.

This would relieve the stress and worry of parents trying to find the money to give their child the right to a further education. This needs urgent attention before more Jersey students and their families are disadvantaged.

We thought we were an Island that encouraged students to gain qualifications in today’s highly competitive job market. If anyone has concerns we urge them to write to the Scrutiny office by 1 December.

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