There’s a spectre haunting the world of education. It’s the spectre of student debt – and it’s looming over poorer students in many countries.
The UK is one of the best examples. Since the Conservative party came into power in 2010, the amount that students are expected to pay for their education has risen sharply, with a large number of universities charging the maximum £9,000 in tuition fees. What’s more, university body The Russell Group are campaigning to raise fees even further.
These measures have led to numerous protests from irked students, as well as arguments that the hike in tuition fees is essentially stopping poorer young people from entering into the institutions.
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For many, the debts you’ll accumulate after attending university make it too much of a gamble. Despite being highly qualified, you’re joining a busy market that increasingly fails to cater to graduates.
Vast numbers of graduate-level workers are hired in low paid retail jobs, with few using the skills they’ve attained in any meaningful sense.
Studying for a degree is a spin of the wheel, and the reticence of less affluent people in the UK to put their money on an outside bet is understandable. After all, what’s in it for them?
However, it’s not all calumny and doom and gloom. Like any failing institution, plenty of alternatives have arrived to help plug the leaky boat of student finances. Here are just a few.
Distance learning has existed for over a century, but it’s come into its own with the coming of the internet. Where it used to be a process full of rigmarole (Royal Mail rarely appreciate that you’re trying to broaden your horizons), it’s become more efficient than education in a brick and mortar university.
To gain an MBA distance learning, for instance, you’ll have to study for a few years, but you’ll be able to do so whenever the fancy takes you. Essentially, it’s a simple and convenient way to study, removing many of the debts you’ll face after you’ve graduated.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have made massive waves in the media, not least because they’re backed by some major educational institutions. But what, exactly, are they?
In a nutshell, they’re completely free modules that will give you a solid grounding in a subject of your choosing. Many of them are provided by real university tutors who’ve devised the courses themselves, and come with many course materials that are up to a professional standard.
Sound too good to be true? Well, that’s mainly because it is.
While MOOCs are a great way to dip into a subject, they’re not long enough to give you an in-depth understanding of your it, and you won’t gain an actual qualification at the end of your studies, making it effectively useless on your CV.
Despite this, MOOCs are a perfect way to sample a course you might be interested in, like shareware was to videogames back in the 90s. So it’s always worth giving a try.