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University being expensive is irrelevant

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University is expensive. The numbers scream that fact.  Atypical pharmacy student will borrow £36k in tuition fee loans and at least £14kin maintenance loans, totalling a scary £50k. Add another (roughly) £10k if they complete the 5-year course.  It's good then that, for the vast majority,these numbers are meaningless.  You coulddouble every stated figure and it would only make them more irrelevant.

It's frustrating hearing people debate whether an extra yearis "worth it".  This relates to whetherto do a 4-year pharmacy degree versus either a traditional 3-year degree or the5-year pharmacy degree.  Cost should haveno bearing on the decision.

Cost is irrelevant because students will rarely repay theirloans before they are cleared 30 years after graduating.  There is therefore no advantage in borrowing£37.5k for a 3-year course rather than £50k for a 4-year course.  The cost for the student will be the same at9% of anything earned above £21,000 in real terms for 30 years.

I'll defer to Martin Lewis's website, found here,for an explanation of the maths.  Usinghis calculator, you'll find newly qualified pharmacists would have to start ona salary above £45k in order to repay all their loans.  The government'sown estimates are that 50% of students borrowing the lower amount of £34.5kwill have their loans written-off.  Thisseems likely to be an underestimate.

It was a political choice to concoct a figure to attach touniversity.  In practice the systemoperates as a 30-year graduate tax on earnings. 

There's a perception that universities are drowning in moneyas a result of the tuition fee hike. This isn't true.  It's forecastedthat in 2012-13, the first year of increased fees, tuition fee income willincrease by £1,561m.  But universitieswill face a £1,263m cut in government funding. That leaves a surplus of £298m.  Itisn't insignificant, but only equates to a little more than 1% of totaluniversity funding.   Again, it was apolitical decision to shift funding for higher education from state tostudent. 

Vent your frustrations or admiration as you wish at theballot box.  But don't let an irrelevantfigure guide your university decision. There are other more important factors to consider.

Follow me on Twitter @RanveerBassey

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