Tuition fees should be higher for STEM students to reflect the value of their degrees


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By Tim Bodey, Second Year History

The recent government suggestion that STEM degrees should be raised to £13,500 a year, while arts are lowered to £6,500 a year makes sense considering what they get for this money.

There is a huge pressure on most people to go to university.

With 162 higher education establishments receiving government funding in 2016-17, it is clearly a huge industry within the UK.

However, the government certainly should not entirely fund them. Graduates earn more than non-graduates, so students paying for their tuition is only reasonable. Yet at the moment, some graduates are ripped off to support a mad government ideal of the ‘modern STEM’.

If we are paying for any product, we expect to pay for what we receive. When the state gives incentives to buy electric cars, they do not put all cars at the same price to encourage buying a BMW over a Nissan.

The same logic should be applied to degrees, with STEMers getting basically 9-5 contact, lab time and resources- all in facilities thar are considerably more expensive than any seminar room.

some graduates are ripped off to support a mad government ideal of the ‘modern STEM’.

This is a clear government policy that says ‘arts are useless, STEM is the future’. By saying this, students are told that their contribution to society is less important if they are not good at maths. It says that people’s use is only in the bottom line.

Critics claim that a representative tuition fee will alienate budding STEM graduates, but at the moment the budding arts students are paying for those students’ degrees.

Logic of a disincentive to STEM students should then be applied to the current system, where universities essentially admit that an arts degree is bad value for money. In doing so they constantly push arts to the fringes of relevance, perpetuating the myth that the only valuable way to spend your life is behind a screen. This is seen in careers fairs and in campus buildings.

In a recent ‘inter-discipline’ careers fair there were plenty of engineering firms, and yet there was a curiously low representation from any arts-centric disciplines.

This is a clear government policy that says ‘arts are useless, STEM is the future’

The Government constantly pushes for more STEM grads, under the folly that this will give a modern state. Yet there are still hordes of arts undergraduates and the flow is not thinning.

The Government should realise that the better way to modernise the state is to make vocational degrees into apprenticeships, make graduates pay for the facilities they actually used, then use the money saved to ensure that new apprentices lead to good jobs and give real opportunities.

This would give a more realistic modernising aspect to the economy, as people would be trained by companies for the jobs companies want doing. Graduates then would be pushed intellectually at university and would pay for the privilege - something entirely reasonable.

For a system of higher education that provides for a modern state’s needs, simply putting up posters that say 'STEM' all over sixth forms will not be enough. Make apprenticeships a viable option which lead to real potential and give arts the credit they deserve.

A huge part of this is making undergrads pay what the course costs to put on, rather than making the people unfortunate enough to have a passion for arts pay for the government approved STEM students.

Featured image: Unsplash/Ousa Chea

Do you have a strong opinion about tuition fees, or the sciences versus arts debate? Let us know!

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