It was inevitable, I suppose. The Open University is going to be charging a lot more for its courses. Full information can be found here.
For students in England studying with us for the first time from 1 September 2012 there will be a standard fee of £5,000 based on 120 credits of study. This is equivalent to a year’s full-time study at traditional universities.
Now the majority of OU students study part time, like me. Part time study equals 60 credits per academic year and that will cost £2,500.
Currently, each course costs a different amount. My next one is AA315 and that has cost £700. However – and here is what really encouraged me to study with the OU – I have been awarded financial support. I have not had to pay for any of my OU courses, which is what made it so very attractive to me as a 23 year old who only works part time and already owes £8k to the Student Loans Company. Now I believe I am correct in thinking that from September 2012, gone are the days of financial support: now you have to be like any other student and have a student loan.
Previously, student loans were not available to part time students, but they are now, which obviously makes the plan more feasible.
Now, for those who are already an OU student working towards a certificate, diploma or degree, it’s a little bit more complicated, but there is a nice guide and video for you here.
I have to be honest… these changes anger me. I am not, in any way, angry at the OU. These changes will not affect me. But I am angry for the group of kids who happen to be a couple of years younger than me and will pay over twice as much for the same standard of education that I received. I am angry at the government who received their education for free. I feel our generation is being left behind by previous generations who had everything handed to them on a golden platter.
The most irritating thing about all of this is that it only applies to students in England. Not Northern Irish, Welsh or Scottish students. So if you aren’t English, well done on living where you do now.
These fees are still way below what other universities are charging; £4,000 less. This is good; it will make the university a lot more attractive to students who balk at the idea of paying £9,000 a year (which I frankly think is a disgusting amount). Also, less fees means less interest.
But it is a blow to the idea of education as a right. I believe education is a right. It is not a privilege. Knowledge is not something that should be denied to those who are unable to pay. It’s a shame for those students who are ‘hobbyists’; who study for the pure enjoyment of studying. Paying such extortionate fees will turn education into a commodity; something that can be bought and sold, and not something that is valued as a pastime in its own right.
Many people ask why I study History of Art. I study it because it interests me. I have never been one to think about future job prospects. I study for the pure enjoyment of learning, and I fear that such fees will change how we view certain subjects, particularly the arts. A world without artists, dancers, actors, musicians is a very bleak world indeed. A country where the vast majority of the population stopped studying at 18 is also very bleak. How are we expected to compete with China, Japan, Germany? Many people moan about immigration, but think of how many immigrants work in the NHS. More will be needed now.
These fee hikes were inevitable, and we should not be blaming the university. They are still offering fees at a far lower price than all other universities, and that is something to be proud of. But it is a sad day for education and the notion of life-long learning.