The dawn of an exhilarating new era is upon you. The newfound freedom of Freshers’ Week resonates through every pore in the breezeblock walls of your cell-like room. Can you hear it? That’s the unwelcome sound of aeroplanes flying over your building. Every hour.
You’ve been celebrating the start of university for a week now. It’s been an all-week-bender of booze, being sick everywhere and trying to make a good impression with people you’ll probably never meet again. Let’s hope you don’t have to hide your face if you do see a familiar face after those debauched nights of drinking games and general idiocy. You’ve enjoyed the kisses with strangers, the zany costumes, trying some homemade gin from the strange Serbian guy down the corridor and the subsequent trip to A & E. You’ve rambled and raved about how poor the UCAS system is (and Student Finance too) and you’ve spent all your money on snakebite and club nights you didn’t even go to.
You wake up one overcast morning in a beer-stained bed, cringe-inducing memories of Walkabout pounding in your head. You’ve probably been sick in your sink six times now and the odds are you’ve rubbed some people up the wrong way with your late night shenanigans, throwing eggs in the stairwell and letting them rot, to resemble a maudlin allegory of the rest of your life. You try to get out of bed, but fail. The self-loathing begins to set in. Don’t worry; it’s normal, I think.
What you didn’t expect to be thinking about during Freshers Week were the tuition fees you’re going to be paying off FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. New King’s students will be paying £9,000 a year for their degrees and in the murky midst of widespread cuts to higher education, freshers in 2012 are being cut a horrendously raw deal. If you weren’t so hung-over and could move your face, you’d look seething at this thought. You’ll have opportunity to make known your animosity this year, with the NUS demo scheduled for 21st November. The Houses of Parliament will be ablaze, David Cameron’s head on a pike, and the Cenotaph will have idiots climbing all over it again.
In an age where public demonstrations do nothing except portray all students in a bad light, what can you do, apart from not go to university at all? You can get the train to Barrow every fortnight and sign on instead, making a keen profit of £65 and a harrowing disgust for your fellow man. Have you ever been in a Job Centre? Roar! asked Professor Rick Trainor how he proposes to help students who are struggling to pay tuition fees. He said:
“King’s is reinvesting 30 per cent of additional tuition fee income in scholarships, bursaries and outreach initiatives to support academic excellence whatever a student’s background.
The College offers a variety of financial support including the National Scholarship Programme (116 King’s students will receive a fee waiver of £6,000 each in their first year of study – £3,000 from the Government and £3,000 from the College); the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Enterprise Scholarships (30 worth £30,000 over three years); the Liberal Arts Scholarships (up to five scholarships of £15,000 each over three years) and the Desmond Tutu Scholarships (five worth £24,000 for Home/EU students or £39,000 for International students over three years). King’s also offers 85 first year fee waivers as part of its Access to the Professions scheme.
To support students with their living costs, the College offers a King’s Living Bursary (up to £1,000) to every full-time home undergraduate student in receipt of the Government Maintenance Grant (up to £3,250).
Full-time UK and EU students will be able to take out Government loans to cover tuition fees and living costs, and will not be required to make repayments until they earn at least £21,000 a year.”
Universities and ministers were concerned that the drastic rise in tuition fees would put many students off applying. The total number of students applying to universities has dropped by 7.7% and the total number of mature applicants by 15-20%. This data highlights the tragic folly of hiking up tuition fees, making Britain one of the most expensive places in the world to access higher education. And King’s increased their fees to the maximum possible. It’s bad enough having to pay a fiver for a Jägerbomb at Koko and putting up with the incessant rises in student Oyster tickets, let alone having to fork out nine grand a year for the pleasure of studying in this God-forsaken city. Congratulations on getting here, anyway.
You can follow Ben Jackson on Twitter at @bjacksonuk