I do get fed up with commentators referring to the free education had by my generation and comparing it to the high cost of further education for students now. Actually, taken as a whole, students now are better off than my generation for two reasons.
Firstly, far more young people have the opportunity to go to college. That was something only enjoyed by a minority of my generation. The lack of opportunity started long before you got to further education. In the London suburb where I lived there weren't enough grammar school places for all the girls who passed the 11+, so you only got a place at a grammar school on an interview and a reference from your head-teacher. That enabled the head at the grammar school I attended to weed out any children from council-estates, or who were black, or belonged to any other minority she despised.
Despite having la creme de la creme at the school, the number of girls who went on to further education was pitifully small. Each year consisted of 90 girls, and less than half went on to any form of further education, but only 15 or so to university, the rest to 2 year teacher training or nursing college.
Secondly, you could only get a grant for college if your parents were prepared to be means tested and sign a grant form. Mine refused. So, I left home and got married, which was not a good move, because when I applied for a grant a couple of years later, I was awarded a "married woman's grant" which was far less than I could live on.
If I'd been able to take out a student loan, that made me independent of my parents, and that I would not have to start repaying until I was in work and my income had reached a certain level, I'd have jumped at the chance. It would have seemed like heaven to me.
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