Wednesday 21 November 2012

An historic day

So! Today I rang up the Student Loans Company and they were able to confirm (after I had read out all my payments in this tax year and the woman had added them up) that I have finally, FINALLY finished paying my student loan. That was my much-smaller PGCE loan; the original BA loans were paid off in March.

I'm feeling pretty happy about this, not least because of the small spike in income it will create. But it gives me pause: I advise students I teach often not to fret too much about university costs if they want to go because, hey, nobody ever avoids buying a house because they don't want a mortgage (well, not many people I'll bet). However, it has taken me until now - 15 years after I started uni - to finish paying and my loans were miniscule in comparison to today's, since I paid no fees and received a full grant. One year's fees now as about 50% more than my total loans for my first degree. Those debts they're coming out with really will look like a mortgage.

Maybe I had better direct them to student finance instead and keep my mouth shut.

Interestingly, I bumped into an ex-pupil recently who was in to do some observation before applying for teacher training. He did some kind of medical degree at Cambridge. He was complaining that in his final year he had been offered 4 hours of lectures a day. When he revealed this he paused for effect but I wasn't quite sure whether this was a good or a bad thing - in my final year at uni I had 4 hours a week and I thought it was great. He thought the opposite. "I mean, we're paying the same as the students on the such-and-such courses, but they get 8 hours a day!" he complained. Hmm, yes. I never thought of it like that. Value for money didn't really come into it when it wasn't paid for directly.

I wonder what impact this will have on degree courses in the long term.


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