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Rising Tuition Fees: Bad for the young but terrible for the young middle class

    Tuition fees initially rose significantly, which caused many protests, to £9 000 in 2012 and now the government have announced the possibility of further increases to £9 250. Raising tuition fees will mean that people will graduate with more debt and this will lower their living standards compared to those previously paying the lower rates. Some may decide that higher education is not worth this debt. This burden of rising tuition fees will aggravate the younger generation even more as the government continues to give priorities to the older generations in a political move to gain votes. Moreover, within the young, it is those from a middle class background who will feel that they have been worst hit.

    Research by the IFS in 2012 found that 56% of all graduates would take so long to repay their loans that they would qualify to have it written off after 30 years when they are at least 52. Even though tuition fees are higher in other countries, such as the United States, students in England face the highest level of debt in the English-speaking world. This means that those who initially graduate with a relatively low-paying job will face problems later on if their income increases beyond the threshold level and they have to pay back this large debt with interest. This will lower their living standards as the debt repayments means that their disposable income falls. Thus, this rise in tuition fees will act to increase the gap between generations as those who are younger increasingly feel that they are treated unfairly by a government that prioritises the voting old. High house prices, ring-fencing of pensions and now the rise in tuition fees all act to victimise the young. One of the main consequences of the rise in tuition fees is the injustice that the young feel as they have to pay more than their predecessors.   

    Moreover, within the younger generation that suffer from this debt, it will be the British middle class who will be the worst hit by these measures. Students from the poorest families will be able to take on grants while the rich would have paid for much of their education themselves anyway. According to the telegraph, those from the poorest families actually graduate with the least average debt at £34 848. A presentation by Emma Jackson discussing the impact of increased tuition fees gave the example of Rochdale (an area with some of the worst unemployment rates where there was actually a 6% increase in applications) as a relatively poor region which actually saw a rise in university applications after the tuition fee rise. The percentage of applicants from mid-income families fell by 1% while those from the poorest fifth of England only fell by 0.2%. Thus, this shows that spikes in tuition fees will have a disproportionate effect on the middle class who are not poor enough for grants but not rich enough to be unaffected.

    In conclusion, the spike in tuition fees unfairly hits the young. It is a great injustice to those currently in higher studies that students who received exactly the same education, just a few years ago, were able to do so for a third of the price. This comes at the same time as the government giving less priority to younger generations in other areas too, for example, the inability to deal with providing adequate housing. Within the younger generation, it is the middle class who are worst hit as they can neither access grants available to the poor nor are rich enough to be unaffected. Therefore, by raising tuition fees, the government are threatening a relatively vulnerable section of the population: the young, middle class. 

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