Archive | October, 2010

How should Higher Education be funded?

6 Oct

It’s a topic that is has been particularly highly debated over the last year, promises were made in the election campaigns, students were canvassed for their votes and Universities demanded more money. However, now we have a coalition government who doesn’t seem to be sure about how they should proceed. The Liberal Democrats promised to scrap University tuition fees for first degrees and the Conservatives covered their backs by saying ‘We will await Lord Browne’s final report into higher education funding, and will judge its proposals against the need to: increase social mobility; take into account the impact on student debt; ensure a properly funded university sector; improve the quality of teaching; advance scholarship; and attract a higher proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.’.

However, now it is time to see some action and some decision from our new Government. The average student comes out of their first (3 year) degree owing over £21,000 in student loan and tuition fee loan. That’s providing they don’t get into any extra debt through credit cards or other loans. The system isn’t working, we’ve blogged already about the amount of trouble Student Finance England have been in and the stress it has caused countless students trying to access funding.

Yesterday, the Guardian published some views on the Browne review of higher education funding and spoke to student and staff representatives from Kingston University. Their opinions are interesting, and seem to back up the general consensus that the current system is not fair, but what the ideal solution would be is undecided.

The current system allows students from low-income families or disadvantaged backgrounds to access a wealth of funding, however those students coming from middle-class families with an average income are left with very little grant and a lot of debt.

We don’t know what the solution is, without a pot of money to pay for everyone’s degrees there isn’t an easy option. Graduate taxation doesn’t sound ideal and just means you face longer as a new graduate before you are able to start thinking about getting on the property ladder or having any financial security. The way grants and loans are administered at the moment isn’t right either, with many students from a ‘typical’ university-goer background missing out on funding or saddling thousands of pounds worth of debt. Increasing tuition fees to a potential £10,000 a year would more than triple the debt students come out of University with – not a good way to start your career.

What do you think? How should our degrees be funded? Has opening the doors of Higher Education to everyone meant that a degree isn’t worth as much in the job market? How do you fund your degree/living now? Let us know!

It’s a tricky one!

Love

Clever Student Money

Send My Bag

5 Oct www.sendmybag.com

You probably know all too well just how much ‘stuff’ you can take to University with you.  Most people are dropped off to Uni for the first time by their parents in a packed car that just about survives the journey from home to halls.  By the time Christmas rolls around, the amount of possessions you have seems to have miraculously doubled (it’s never just books) and you have to decide what to take home for the holidays.  January exams looming means the text books are a must, then there are the clothes, laptop, Christmas gifts…the list goes on.  You bundle it all into various suitcases and duffel bags, catch a cab to the station and somehow manage to catch the train.  Of course this is where the nightmare really begins; multiple heavy bags + train changes + delays + the odd bit of rain + cramped train carriages definitely does NOT equal a happy student.  Even worse than having to catch the train home with all that luggage is of course having to fly home.  Not uncommon now as the cost of domestic flights plummet.  However, the cheap airlines usually charge a minimum of £20 per bag with a weight limit of 20kg.  Definitely not conducive to student packing or budgets!

Sound all too familiar?

There is now another way to move your kit at the beginning or end of the semester, the year or even when you graduate!

Send My Bag costs £22 per bag or box (£19.80 when you send 3 or more bags) with 30kgs weight allowance per item.   If you hold that elusive NUS Extra card or have a UCAS application card then you qualify for further discounts when you provide your card number.   So what do you get for your money?  It is a student courier service that does all the hard work for you.  You can order delivery for just 48 hours after collection to any address in the UK.  They will accept boxes or suitcases and even sell a packing kit if you need supplies.

So who can save money?  Although designed for students, it is open to everyone; according to the FAQs, customers are even using them to move house.  For what it is, a personal courier service, it is good value.  If you are flying then it is definitely going to be cheaper than paying airline baggage costs and then having the hassle of dealing with your luggage at the airport.  If you are getting the train then it may not save you money but it will save you hassle and valuable time.

A brand new service that the company offer is the storage facility. It’s common for new graduates to have a limbo period over the summer of their graduation when they need to move out of their student digs but haven’t started at a new job.  Send My Bag offers to store the luggage you wish to send for 2 months at a meer £20 on top of the £22 you pay to send it.  It only takes a glance at some of the other storage companies out there to know that this is a competitive rate.   This could also be used by EU and International students whilst they go home for the summer as a good way of avoiding excess storage costs and is definitely easier as you don’t have to take the boxes to the storage facility yourself.

We can see the benefit for both students, young professionals and home-movers alike from both a money- and time-saving perspective.  However we haven’t been able to test any of the services ourselves yet, we would really like to review the service properly for you so hopefully we can decide on something to send to someone (apparently we aren’t allowed to send the cat) and then we’ll give you a proper consumer review!  In the meantime, let us know if you have used the service and what you thought.

Love

CSM

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