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    Posted 27 March 2003

    By Richard Jopling

    IN 2006 A NEW METHOD of gathering students’ fees will begin to affect UK universities and consequently an increasing number of prospective students and their families.

    Universities have the power to choose how much they actually charge for a course, ranging between nothing and the full £3,000. Student loans will be available to help with living costs and there are modest grants for families in the lower income bracket, but inevitably there will also be even more onus on parents.

    Estimates of the true cost of a three-year degree vary in accordance with the actual fee charged and the cost of living either in university accommodation or in the locality, however combined costs could be as much as £30,000.

    One positive note in all this is that the new arrangements regarding tuition fees mean you don’t have to pay your fees up front. However, you will be required to pay back the money after the course, when you are in employment. Repayments will start once the student is earning £15,000 per annum.

    All of this is bound to lead to students and their parents becoming much more selective in their choice of university and degree course. Subjects that cannot offer a reasonable prospect of good employment are likely to become far less popular. Courses leading to membership of RICS promise reasonable employment opportunities and should not be too badly affected but even so, some prospective families may be discouraged by the new arrangements.

    Under these circumstances, it is appropriate that both universities and employers should look at ways of working together to help support good potential students during their course and thus continue to bring highly skilled practitioners in to professional employment.

    Harper Adams University College, Shropshire, is already operating both a Bursary Scheme and a Scholarship Scheme, to assist the finances of its students. Bursaries are means-tested awards designed to help students in genuine financial difficulties.

    Scholarships on the other hand are open to all and are available competitively to students who have the potential to achieve and make a significant contribution to university life. More than 35 such scholarships were awarded to students joining Harper Adams last September and many of those went to students joining the RICS approved BSc (Hons) Rural Enterprise and Land Management. Open Scholarships are also available for students taking one-year Masters courses such as the MSc Rural Environment, Amenity and Land Management, which is RICS accredited.

    Some scholarships are available from commercial companies who see them as an opportunity to support good students on good courses and in this way secure employees for the future. Typical of the many scholarships of this sort available is the Bidwells Scholarship, offered in conjunction with The Bidwells Partnership, a leading employer of rural practice property consultants. Harper Adams enjoys close links with Bidwells and welcomes the scholarship arrangements – we would be pleased to hear from other any other potential scholarship sponsor interested in developing similar links.

    There are good job prospects at Harper Adams, as demonstrated by our impressive graduate employment record, and a number of our graduates obtain employment with Rural Practice Chartered Surveyors. So, although it may be more expensive to go to university in future, in the long-term the investment will prove worthwhile providing you take the time to select a course carefully and ensure you are investing in a real education with real opportunities.


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