University costs are a matter of life or debt

22nd October 2010 at 01:00

I enjoy Gerard Kelly's editorials - the honesty, the wit, but mostly the passion. However, last week's missed the point ("It's poverty of ambition, not student debt, that's keeping poor children away from university", October 15).

Many of the young people I talk to are questioning the sense of taking on such an extensive level of debt. These are not those from poor or disadvantaged backgrounds - they include those, not unlike my own daughter, who come from high-achieving and high-earning families.

These young people have the intelligence to see what a debt-based culture has done to our society. They are painfully aware of a climate where many individuals, big corporations and governments are desperate to reduce their debts. Yet they listen to politicians seeking to encourage them to take on incredible levels of personal debt, even before they start to earn.

Such young people also have the intelligence to see the scale of cuts in employment and the real reductions in earnings that are taking place. So they think hard about how the potential value of a degree balances against the reality of the debt they will have to live with.

My daughter still wants to move forward in her learning, and like the others I talk to she will embark on a degree. However, she is seeking routes that will significantly reduce that debt, including distance learning or at least limiting her choices to a university within daily travelling distance.

Keep in sight the need to raise aspirations but don't dismiss the intelligence of either those young people, or adults, who struggle to see the value of debt.

Robin Widdowson, Chameleon Learning.

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