The feel-bad fees factor

June 21, 1996

I was saddened to read that Birmingham University is considering a Pounds 700 fee for new students (THES, June 14).

While studying there between 1988 and 1991, it was obvious to me that I was one of a tiny minority of students from a working-class background.

As an 18-year-old I had an ingrained fear of debt and a lack of confidence in my future financial prospects. Those beliefs and fears were not generally shared by students from more comfortable financial backgrounds with whom I came into contact, even those whose parents had made a show of making them independent.

I also had experiences and a lifestyle which were very different from those of most of my contemporaries and which I hope added a slightly different dimension to their learning experience, as they did to mine.

On reflection, I believe that if such a fee had existed at the time, the fear of incurring a large debt would have prevented me from applying for a place at Birmingham University.

I also believe that if all universities had such a fee, I might never have benefited from full-time higher education and would have missed some very important and valued experiences in my life.

Tina Shadforth


Coventry University

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