DD303 – the moment of truth approaches

I know when my course results are getting close – it means I check my StudentHomepage at least six times a day, “just in case”. Officially, DD303 results for 2010 are due out sometime before Friday 17th December, but in past years my results have been available a couple of days before then. Either way, this time next week I should know how I did and whether or not my “nuclear option” to do SD226 as well as DD307 next year is a possibility.

I’m not making as much progress with DD307 as I’d hoped I might do, given that the materials arrived a few weeks ago. So far I’ve watched the first DVD and read all of the chapters for the first block – but have barely started making any notes at all. I’d still like to have a draft of the first TMA written before the official course start date at the end of January / beginning of February. Maybe I’ll find some time between Christmas and new year to make a proper start.

I did say my last post on tuition fees would be the last for a while, but I do find the whole subject desperately sad and depressing. The report in the Independent this morning claiming that only a quarter of graduates will pay off their loans is particularly shocking and shows the act of vandalism being perpetrated on our universities and young people for what it is – right wing political ideology, pure and simple, which will actually cost both non-graduate and graduate taxpayers more, not less. So much for deficit reduction.

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that the Government will have to borrow £10.7bn to pay out student loans in 2015-16, compared with £4.1bn at the moment – with all but £1bn of the £6.6bn increase due to the tuition fees reforms.

A £2.9bn / year “saving” in the cut made to teaching budgets results in an additional £5.6bn cost to the taxpayer in 2015-16. An unsustainable system. Grrrr.

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Reader Comments

  1. Sue Mac

    I’ve been wondering how it will affect 2012 course fees with the OU. I will be taking my last module then for my BSc (DD307), just hope they don’t go too overboard!

    • tim

      Hi Sue,

      I’ve been trying to figure that out too! Bottom line, I don’t think anyone (including the OU) are able to work it out yet without seeing the detail of the white paper that is due to be published in the spring. The one thing that is certain though is the impact of the cut in the funding of teaching will hit the OU hard – as it will lose around 75% of its teaching funding (according to the UCU – see page 24). It’s inevitable that fees (however they are paid for!) will be rising I fear.

  2. Arnold

    Those figures are scary for sure.

    If one takes them at face value, for a notional £650 60 pointer the situation at present appears to be that they receive another £650 or so of support for it (ie the “real” cost is more like £1300). Using the figures from the report that £650 support would become more like £150 ie they’d be short around £500 and therefore the 60 pointers would cost around £1100. Of course, this assumes that the higher cost wouldn’t act to deter significant numbers of students from enrolling; if it did then the charge could be much higher.

    One potential, if devious, way for Sue and others finishing in 2012 to potentially avoid the additional cost (if it comes to pass) might be to sign up for the 2012 courses in 2011 then cite family reasons to drop out and carry the registration forward to 2012 (assuming that you couldn’t cope with adding the 2012 course to the 2011 workload). I think (not sure) that this would leave you paying 2011 fees. Or, of course, you could find a kind Welsh person and/or move to Wales. The Northern Ireland option whilst great for ELQ avoidance does not appear to provide exemption for this nonsense.

    It makes you wonder how the open arts college (http://www.weareoca.com/education/more-on-student-fees/, the OU’s sister university) can get by without such levels of support and thereby appears to have completely side-stepped the ELQ business and this nonsense too.

  3. tim

    Hi Arnold,

    And your figures assume that the effect of the cut is equal in all subject areas. However, the funding that is left is supposed to go to only particular subject areas. Arts, the humanities and social sciences will get none at all as far as I’m aware.


  4. Ruth

    Some universities e.g. Sheffield are already upping the grade requirements for 2011 entry (after publishing different grades in their prospectuses) so that when the new fees bite they can charge the maximum fees. They did this after current sixth-formers had made decisions re UCAS applications. Shameful.
    Not happy about the tuition fee rise at all. 🙁

  5. Arnold

    I could see some arts subjects closing down if there were a big jump in fees. Going from my own experience with the student make-up, I’d say psych would continue regardless as everyone doing it seems extremely keen on doing it so price would be less of an issue. Languages could easily die at a stroke in the OU with a price rise as most people aren’t doing it with a specific aim in sight. Sciences seem in the middle ground but with a general underlying job reason for doing them so might be less price sensitive than languages but probably not so insensitive to prices as psych.

    Much as many would scoff at some of the “non-degree” subjects and wouldn’t worry about them biting the dust, I really can’t see dropping them wholesale as could easily happen would be a good move for the UK in the long run. OK, something like, say, art history might not be as directly relevant to the economic life of the country as something like, say, engineering, there remains a relevance in many cases. Besides, would we really want the museums and whatnot being staffed by people who knew diddly about art, or history?

    On the non-repayments… if those figures come to pass, in effect the charges will just be another tax and the new arrangements are merely a way of dramatically increasing the financial risk to the country through the creation of a massive amount of unsecured debt. There’s also the risk that it would encourage people to earn less than the salary required to trigger repayments. Would it go towards creating the educated equivalent of those for whom it isn’t worthwhile getting a job? After all, right now a couple with two kids needs to earn more than about £25k before it’s worth their while getting off the dole. Add two degrees for that couple and you could easily find yourself needing £30k before a job was worthwhile. Outside the southeast, you need quite a good job to clear £30k.

Your thoughts?