With the general election fast approaching, there’s been a big push to encourage 18 to 25-year-olds to vote, since a huge proportion of us didn’t last time.
I’m not well versed in the intricacies of politics, but general consensus among young people after the last election was disappointment with regards to the tripling of university tuition fees.
This time round, the topic seems to have been swept under the carpet a bit, with Labour promising to reduce them again (but not quite as low as they used to be) and UKIP promising to abolish them for degrees in certain fields. But little has been mentioned on the matter by the other parties.
What does it matter to us anyway? We’re already at uni, with our fees fixed from our enrolment date. So perhaps it doesn’t, and perhaps the young voters, already in further education, should prioritise other issues when musing over the various policies.
But students, often skint (especially at this time of year, with eight days until Student Finance comes in – not that I’m counting), like to know they’re getting their money’s worth. Instead of standing in a supermarket, deliberating whether its okay to spend an extra quid on branded cereal, maybe we should think about what we’re paying for in the long term.
Whether we’re paying nothing (the Scottish), £3,000 (friends in my school year were the final students to have these fees), £9,000 (most undergraduates now) or even more as postgraduates, is it worth it?
You could discuss the philosophy of investing in your future, and whether spending so much on education will be worth it for a fulfilling career, higher wages or being able to achieve the dream of being a vet, but what about the face value? Per year, term or even day, what do we get for our money? A lot. That’s what.
Some of us may be paying a staggering total of £45,000 for tuition alone, but what is that paying for? Almost 9am to 5pm, five days a week, contact time – and not just with anyone. Many of our lecturers are leaders in their respective fields; extremely experienced clinicians with more letters after their names than the alphabet itself. Plus practicals – labs, dissections, animal handling/examination and clinical skills sessions.
Without putting a price on practical sessions, it already sounds like we’re getting a fair bit for our cash, especially when you compare our course to a non-science degree, such as English or history. These often comprise just a few hours’ teaching a week, and yet can cost the same as the veterinary degree.
Involvement in the organisation of Association of Veterinary Students Congress earlier this year opened my eyes to the cost of basic equipment for practical sessions, such as needles and syringes.
One particularly costly element was paying for the actor for a communication skills section of one of the practicals. The veterinary school employs these actors for teaching purposes because they contribute to a more realistic scenario than just practising communication with our classmates.
As such, when we had a revision practical, with boxes of syringes, catheters, blood tubes, fluid therapy giving sets and fluid bags left out for us to practise as much as we needed, I couldn’t help but feel that the veterinary degree is one of the best value for money.