[ExI] extropy-chat Digest, Vol 53, Issue 8

Tom Nowell nebathenemi at yahoo.co.uk
Mon Feb 11 11:31:56 UTC 2008

> Amara Graps
> Subject: [ExI] the formerly rich and their larvae...
> Spike:
> >Students are expected to be in debt.
> That is a very US-centric statement.
> Amara

>Oh?  Do explain, Amara.  In other countries, do not
>students need to
>borrow money to pay their tuition?

>I expect students to be in debt, regardless of where
>they are from:
> they are
>usually young, so they could not have had much time
>to save a pile of money.
>Even if they go to a school in which the state pays
>most of the tuition,
>they still need to cover their living expenses.


Well, it depends on the nation you're in and the
period in time. Here's my UK experience:

Eldest sister went to Oxford in 1980, got tuition paid
and a grant to cover living expenses. She ran a small
overdraft from the bank. So, minimal debt for Ivy
league education, and no summer jobs for her.

Next sister went to Leeds 1982, tuition paid,
religiously saved her grant so paid her living
expenses and even lent a little cash to her parents.
Her PhD was fully funded by a research council.

My elder brother went to Durham in 1989, tuition paid,
had some living expenses grant but it wasn't quite
enough, had a moderate bank overdraft and had a summer
job as an intern for an accountancy firm which paid
peanuts but got him valuable experience.

I went to Liverpool in 1994 to study medicine, which
is a long course. My generation got tuition paid
(thankfully, unsubsidised medical education would be
crazily expensive). I had a small grant but most
living expenses were covered by a low-interest loan
(which I still haven't paid back). These loans had the
magic condition of you don't have to pay anything back
until you're earning at least 85% of the average
national wage. Because the London and the nearby areas
have such high wages, lots of graduates in poor areas
didn't have to pay anything until they were doing
better than average.
 My generation was slightly annoyed and protested
about this. However, when the right-wingers in
government got voted out, the poor student would be
better off, right?
 Wrong. Tony Blair was voted in, and decided the best
way to help Britain compete in the "knowledge economy"
was to get as many kids as possible to go into higher
education. He couldn't afford to put significantly
more money in the kitty without serious tax rises, so
he totally abolished grants and introduced small
tuition fees. These tuition fees have over time got
bigger. Also, the low-interest loans have now got much
lower repayment thresholds, so even graduates in
low-wage economic areas have to pay some back. 
 Now, small grants towards living costs have started
coming back for students from the poorest families, as
they realised many kids from poor backgrounds were
terrified of too much debt.
 Other countries within Europe have differing levels
of support. So you see Spike, some countries do feel
it worthwhile to offer students financial support, so
they think getting an education is worth more than
going straight into the workplace to get money and
work experience straight away.
 As for Tony Blair's plan to help Britain in the
knowledge economy - well, more students are studying
business than ever before, so our industries have a
larger pool of people who can talk the talk to recruit
from, but the number of people studying STEM subjects
(science, technology, engineering, mathematics) isn't
rising. The pool of people educated in sciences that
underpin our technological society isn't huge,
engineering firms still have recruitment difficulties,
schools can't get enough science teachers, and my
inbox is full of job ads for maths graduates. (I now
work in insurance - in the financial services sector,
they can fill sales and marketing and management jobs
easily, but the statistics and data mining jobs go
unfilled for quite a while).


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