Joshua David Coyle is an undergraduate politics student at the University of Portsmouth. He spoke to Moving On about what he thought the impact of the new government would be for university students like himself.
Given that the coalition government nearly tripled tuition fees for university students it will be interesting to see how a Conservative majority government will deal with universities.
For years demand has exceeded supply for university places resulting in some young people not being able to go to university. In their 2015 manifesto the Conservative party has promised to abolish the cap on the number of students universities can accept, which is likely to lead to an increase in university students and fewer young adults failing to get into university. However, this could mean that university degrees become less valuable as more young adults gain degrees, meaning that potentially more graduates will be unable to find full time work after university due to increased competition.
If graduate degrees are less valuable this could lead to an increase in demand for postgraduate education. The conservatives also promised in their 2015 manifesto to introduce a Master’s and PhD loan system; this would enable more students to study at postgraduate level but could also increase the amount of debt they find themselves in.
If we add the removal of the places cap to the rise in tuition fees then this will lead to a greater number of young people in debt. If current estimates are correct, as many as 50 per cent of young adults could attend university. This means that as many as half of the next generation could be incurring large amounts of debt to begin their working life with and if Master’s degrees become the standard for employers then more students will need to remain in education to achieve these leading to more debt for more students.
Something which has not been addressed by the Conservatives, which needs to be is the ancillary costs of going to university. These include rent, bills, books, food and transport. The student loan is often insufficient leading to many students going into their overdraft and using other loans; again this leads to more and more debt.
The main problem for many university students is that rents often exceed the maintenance loan given to students; often students have to live in substandard private accommodation which frequently has issues. Landlords refuse to deal with these issues due to the short tenancy agreements.
More needs to be done to address poor student accommodation and the large costs of living for which the grants and loans are insufficient. Overall there will likely be an increase in students over the next five years. Graduates will likely be in large amounts of debt due to rising fees and costs of living. They will also be increasingly unable to find a job due to large amounts of competition. If this happens then the next generation of students will be much worse off under the Conservative government.”