As a biology student, I’ve always thought that between the ten fold increase in contact hours and expensive lab equipment I definitely get my money’s worth – one of the very limited perks of a science degree. However, a new policy that would scale the fees of a degree based on the cost and subsequent earning potential could strip me of this silver lining. As fundamentally flawed and misguided as this approach is, the sad part is I am not that surprised. With a potential difference of seven thousand pounds between courses, the implementation of this elitist policy could have shocking consequences.
My entire university experience is funded through financial aid, which means that I will graduate with a diploma and crippling debt. While this sadly is the cost of gaining university education, it’s a price I am willing to pay. However, had enrolling in biology meant even greater debt there is no question that I would have studied a less costly degree. This means that for many people like me studying the subject of their choice would be either impossible or impractical. Furthermore, my choice was entirely unbiased by any potential salary or prestige and solely by my passion for the subject, and graduating certain courses is by no means a guarantee of a high-paying career. Students should not be punished financially for their interests, especially if the punishment is severe enough to remove certain degrees as an option.
Perhaps more importantly, the concept is deeply discriminatory. Making degrees that are more likely to lead to higher salaries greatly perpetuates the presence of the ‘one percent’ and will aid in maintaining socioeconomic imbalance. Instead of providing as close to equal opportunities as possible, this enables the financially elite while robbing those less fortunate of classically high salary careers. Moreover, the obvious distinction between courses based on their supposed prestige belittles many humanity subjects that are incredibly valid in their own right. The almost dictatorial approach to rating different educations is unfounded and wrong. Educational elitism should be moving towards eradication instead of being more rigidly and obviously grounded.
Aside from those untouched by financial burdens, no one is a winner. There is a case for higher cost for more expensive subjects, however there are many pitfalls to consider. Decreasing the cost of certain arts and humanities lowers the status of these degrees, meaning that they are likely to be starved for funding and carry less weight in the workplace. The more expensive courses including sciences, medicine and engineering are likely to lose many potential students. These courses are obviously incredibly important socially and intellectually. Voiding these subjects of many potentially successful students could hinder the progress being made in these fields. Students should be encouraged to study all degrees, particularly sciences, instead of being dissuaded to undertake the challenge. In this attempt to reduce the cost of university fees, students would be confronted by a much bigger price to pay.