There a few things I’d like to clarify regarding my previous post about the massive 250% Open University fee increase planned for September 2012.
Firstly, there was a suggestion that even if you are studying for fun (rather than for a career change, or for your first degree), you could always apply for the government backed loan and pay it back gradually. As the OU website states:
You’ll only begin to repay the loan after three years, and only if you are earning more than £21,000.
And there is more detail on the direct.gov website:
Once you earn over £21,000, you pay nine per cent of your income above £21,000. So if your salary is £25,000, you pay nine per cent of £4,000 which is £30 a month.
So, the repayments do look manageable.
However, there is a catch. To qualify:
You’ll need to be studying for a qualification that’s higher than any you already have.
Source: OU PDF. There is also more information in a PDF available from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills website.
Example: You did your first degree 20-30 years ago. Now you want to try something completely different. You cannot you afford £2500 per year for 60 points. And unfortunately you don’t qualify for a loan either.
Example: You did your first degree 3 years ago and are struggling to get a decent job. You have realised that the degree choice decision you made at 18 was the wrong one. Now you want to to study for a degree that has better job prospects. You cannot afford £2500 per year for 60 points. And you don’t qualify for a loan either.
Secondly, I want to address some points from this comment:
If you already earn a decent salary, but don’t expect to earn more as a result of your course (ie “learning for fun”), then I’m not entirely sure why you should be subsidised. “It’s fun” is not really a convincing justification for public subsidy. Will removing the subsidy discourage learning for fun? Quite possibly. But if the prospective student on a middle income doesn’t think a course is worth its true cost, I’m not entirely sure why society as a whole should think otherwise.
Couldn’t this argument applied to anything that is regarded as a public service? For example: “I never visit a library – why should my taxes subsidise people who do use libraries?” and “I don’t swim– why should my taxes subsidise people who go swimming?”
I think it comes down to if you think The Open University should be regarded as a public service or not. Personally, I think it is a public service in the same category as libraries and swimming pools. Perhaps I’m being overly idealistic!
Realistically, we don’t get to chose where our tax is spent. I’d hope and want it to be spent on improving society as a whole. I hope it’s not just going to be used to rescue the banks, pay for bonuses, and to pay for Trident.
Another point from the same comment:
…the policy removes a subsidy from upper and middle earners. In financially austere times, that seems reasonable.
As explained at the beginning of the post, if you already have a degree, then you don’t qualify for the loan. It doesn’t matter if you earn £100K per year or £15K. You can’t get a loan.
It is definitely the end of studying for the love of studying. And you have to hope the 18-year old you picked the right degree too.
Edit: I’ve been made aware of The Open University Student Budget Account – a way of borrowing course fees direct from the OU. This could help greatly in making paying for OU courses. It is still £2500 per 60 points, but at least OUSBA would allow you to spread the cost.Follow @kashfarooq