The high price of family endeavour

February 13, 1998

Fear of rising costs is blamed for deterring mature students from university. THES investigates.

Jenny Le Gear is facing the prospect of having to abandon her hopes of entering higher education so that she can support her 17-year-old son through university.

The 45-year-old mother of two had set her sights on joining a social work degree course at Bath University once she completed a one-year access course at City of Bath College.

But she now fears she will not be able to pursue her ambition because it could mean having to find Pounds 6,000 - the combined cost in fees if both she and her son take up a higher education place.

Her family's financial position will not be helped by the fact that her husband is giving up his job to set up his own business.

The means test for fee paying will be applied to the year he was on a salary, yet the fees will have to be paid at a time when his disposable income may have fallen significantly.

Mrs Le Gear, a former hospital ward clerk, said: "It's putting a lot of pressure on my husband for me to expect us to pay fees to do my course, and I have to take my son into account. It is very hard to know what to do when there have not been any clear guidelines."

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