It’s a myth that everyone has access to tertiary study
In a world of escalating costs of living, ever-rising unemployment and fluctuating economies, one group stands to be hit harder than any other.
Unlike other groups, this one will not be publicised by media, found protesting or walking off the job, or be seen throwing in the towel any time soon. Instead, far from it, university students around Australia and indeed the world will continue to front classrooms every day, opening their minds to the knowledge and pathways available to secure a sustainable future free from debt and money woes.
But, just how hard is it to attend university and what financial impact can students expect to be facing both through their studies and at the completion of the educational yellow brick road as they begin their dream career?
To study or not to study: that is the new-age question, and young adults making the leap from high school to university may have to soon think twice before answering the educational call.
Text books, parking and student fees only scratch the surface when it comes to costs associated with higher learning and in times of financial anguish, the number of students studying could sharply decrease, only further impacting on an already depleted economy.
The courage to face these expenses knowing that they may extend years beyond graduation only further impedes on that all-important decision between testing the brain or putting ones heart into succeeding in a trade. With textbooks costing anywhere up to $300 each, and parking on some campuses costing more than $5 a day, it’s no surprise that students really are strapped for cash and now more than ever debating which path their future will take.
On top of this you can add transport costs, such as bus trips; cost of eating at university; rent; and student guild fees, to name a few. With these costs and limited chance of income it’s no surprise to see a finical struggle. Local charities and university-based scholarships offer some aid to a select few, however, for most, a tornado of debt strikes bank accounts.
Reports released last December highlighted just how extreme student debt had become, with a full medical degree reportedly clocking up close to $200,000 in HECS debt. Although one of the worst examples, the average HECS debt to students was estimated at over $20,000. The report continues with the suggestion that a male sole parent with two children may take as long as 14 years to repay his debt, while a female sole parent in similar circumstances may never be able to eliminate hers.
These figures are coupled with limited support financially, both from the university and government sectors. In addition, in some cases, there is an emotional toll, with high numbers of students living out of home and trying to support small families.
Over the last 10 years the number of mature-aged students has also increased. In this instance, families may now be facing the complete loss of one family member’s income whilst they study at university, increasing pressures on relationships. Is studying higher education a path only for the wealthy?
Time on a university campus can vary depending on the degree studied, however most require up to five days contact with the weekend left for class readings and assignments. It won’t be uncommon for many students to work after a long day studying and go without sleep and rest for days on end.
The burden put onto students is both unreasonable and unrealistic. The cost today, to secure tomorrow, is slowly becoming something only obtainable for those willing to sacrifice an income and be burdened with years of debt.
So Dorothy had courage, heart and a brain, which may cut it for a yellow brick road, but thinking of going to university? You may also need a big bag of cash.
*Daniel is supported in his educational pursuits by The Smith Family.
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