Undergraduates more career focused after tuition fee hike


President of St Mary’s University insists degrees are still good value for money


By Nate Saunders

ST MARY’S University College still provides good value for money for students despite a hike in tuition fees, according to the president of the students union.

The rise in fees has been blamed for a 12.2 per cent drop in applications this year compared to 2011 – higher than the 7.4 per cent drop across England as a whole.

But Charlie Benson said the cost of studying at the university shouldn’t put people off applying to St Mary’s, despite it costing up to £8,000 to study for an undergraduate degree from September.

The 23-year-year-old sports science graduate said: “I would say it absolutely does still give value for money. There’s more concentration going into students now, and more money and resources to do that, so overall I would say the whole experience is bound to be better.

“There’s greater effort and greater freedom to improve facilities, something the university is committing to not just this year but beyond. We are currently working on improvements inside the students’ union building itself and work is going into a new student sports building – things which necessarily would not have been available if the money had not gone up.

“If no improvements were being made I think you could say it’s not value for money – but overall it’s a better experience.”

A recent study by financial experts Skandia found graduates are increasingly under pressure to perform after leaving university.

According to Skandia’s Growing Pains survey of 1,000-plus twenty-somethings, more than eight in ten graduates (83.5 per cent) felt the weight of expectation from parents and peers.

And Charlie Benson said the extra cost of studying had focused the minds of St Mary’s undergraduates on what they were trying to achieve during their time in higher education.

“I think students are more aware now they are spending a great deal of money and the degree they get at the end of it needs to match what they are paying,” he said.

“Such a fuss was made about the amount students were paying, and quite rightly, that it’s almost like the attitude has changed for some students as they know working is just as important as the university life.

“If I was studying now I don’t think much would change for me – but I think you would be more motivated to do well and would have more opportunities to do so.”

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