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By VICTORIA LEGGETT Education correspondent
Friday, August 17, 2012
Celebrating A-level students in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire last night said they would not let rising tuition fees stand in the way of their dreams of going to university.
Of those students spoken to by EDP reporters yesterday as they collected their results, almost nine out of 10 (87pc) said the steep rise in tuition fees at many university and higher education colleges had not affected their decision to continue their studies.
Some said it had made them think more carefully about what and where to apply to, while others admitted the prospect of tens of thousands of pounds of debt would play on their minds. But the vast majority of Norfolk teenagers seemed determined to follow their university dreams in order to secure a career in their chosen industry.
College of West Anglia student Matthew West, 18, got two Cs and one D and will study history and sociology at Northampton University.
He said: “I was always going to go to university as I feel money shouldn’t confine your desire to educate yourself. It is still a loan and as long as I’m able to pay it, it won’t stop me getting the degree I deserve.”
Hewett School student Stevie White, 19, from Mile Cross in Norwich, said he did not consider fees at all when choosing his university – instead focusing on the best courses for his chosen subject of animation.
He added: “I like the idea of being able to pay it back because it means I will have earned enough. I have plans. I’m trying to earn enough to pay it back.” But a minority of Norfolk students had been made to think twice – with some deciding to give university a miss rather than rack up a large debt.
Fakenham High student Hannah Tarry, 18, achieved an A in textiles, B in English literature, and C in photography. She said: “I’m hoping to go into fashion and set up my own business. University is so expensive. I wanted to go but because of the rise in the fees, I decided it’s not for me.”
Many universities, including the University of East Anglia in Norwich, have chosen to charge the maximum £9,000 a year for their undergraduate degrees. But all have been working hard over the past year to make sure students are aware of the new finance arrangements for degrees.
As well as explaining how and when they will be expected to pay back their loans, many have been keen to publicise the bursaries and scholarships on offer as a result of the government’s decision to raise the cap on fees.
East Norfolk Sixth Form College student Faith Jennison, 18, from Loddon, is hoping to study law, but has not yet chosen which university she would like to attend. The 18-year-old, who got A*s in economics and general studies, and As in psychology and law, having juggled three jobs during her studies, said she had been looking at the financial support available. She said: “I looked into a bursary at Kent, due to the high tuition fees, but the money will never put me off chasing what I want.”
Many students said the advice available at their schools had influenced their viewpoints on the tuition fees. Mark Farrar, principal at Reepham High School and College, said: “It’s so important to make sure they understand that, although they will have this debt, it is not as onerous as it seems because of the way you pay it back.”
Stephen Rawlings, 16, an AS-level student at Sheringham High School hoping to go on to study ethical and counter-measures at Abertay University in Scotland, said: “I did worry about the rise in fees, but we have had so much support from the school, and from people coming in to school, that it really doesn’t concern me now.”
Mark Barlow, director of admissions, recruitment and marketing at the University of East Anglia, said: “We’re very pleased to see that students who want to go to university are not being put off by the cost of tuition fees. Going to university is an investment in your future, your career and your earning potential. There are tuition fees to pay, but it’s not an upfront cost. The government provides loans which students don’t have to pay back until after they graduate – and only after they are earning more than £21,000 a year.”
For school-by-school results, more reaction and stories from across Norfolk, get the EDP on Monday for a special 12-page A-level results supplement.