Is your degree worth 9k?

The Tab asks whether some subjects are better value for money than others?

While science students receive state-of-the-art equipment and plenty of contact hours, arts and humanities students are often left wondering “where are my fees actually going?”

Is it fair that we all have to pay the same tuition fee whilst there are huge differences in support and resources between subjects? What do students actually get for their money?  Amy Webster and Ben Kennedy have a few things to say on the matter…

Total Rip Off

We all know what it feels like on that first week of term to look at your timetable and see that you have a 9 a.m. the morning after Crisis. We also know that realistically, despite stuffing our faces with cheesy chips and downing a few glasses of water in a desperate attempt to sober up… we are never going to make that lecture.

So you’re probably thinking: ‘What do uni fees have to do with a few messy nights out every week?’ Well… have you ever sat back and thought about whether you’re getting your value for money out of the educative side of your uni experience?

Some of you might have, some not. But, with fees at a pricey £9000, maybe it’s about time we actually delved deeper into what we’re actually getting for our money. Then maybe next time you might think twice about missing that dreaded 9 a.m.…

One thing which isn’t touched upon often is the fact that some of us seem to come off a LOT worse than others. Arts and Humanities students often get as little as five contact hours per week, and yet the price is STILL the same as it is for Engineering or Pharmacy students who can receive on average between 30-35 hours – not to mention the hands on experience they get through labs and placements.

Many Arts and Humanities students will feel my pain when I sit back and question that something isn’t quite right there. So, that’s nine THOUSAND quid a year for a measly five hours per week, and not even a complementary Amazon book token in sight.

On average this works out at £34 per academic hour. I mean… if you miss just three hours’ worth of seminars or lectures per term and that’s the price of a 16GB iPad or one month’s rent. This is quite different for Pharmacy students whose hourly rate is a mere £8, whilst Engineers even get £500 funding for their project in third year.

So… how many of you are now feeling rather nauseous from realising that you miss even more hours than that? Carrying on missing that 9am every week after Crisis and the end of the year this could amount to over £1000 – oosh! Staying in bed or sitting at the back playing temple run doesn’t seem like such a smart idea now does it?

Maybe it’s about time a fee distinction was made between subjects? Or potentially an increase in the contact hours for subjects such as English, Music and Art History? Anything to make Humanities students feel less like they’re fees are funding everybody else’s subjects and the vice-chancellor’s dinner.

£9,000 value for money? Pfft – I think not.



Sorry kids, but books cost less than MRI machines; and that’s why Arts and Humanities students see less of their tuition fees. But at the end of the day, aren’t we all paying for a degree here as oppose to fancy facilities?

On the face of it, it certainly seems that arts and humanities students are getting the rough end of the deal here. As a Music student, I struggle to see what exactly a fresher’s £9,000 goes towards other than a few books and the occasional new glockenspiel. But, what is the point in valuing your degree by the amount of fancy contraptions you have in your department?

Surely, the main reason why we pay these extortionate fees is for the letters after our name that we’ll get when we graduate; that and of course the overall experience of being a student which I’m sure most of you will agree is priceless.

Imagine if we really did split the budget equally across all departments. Medical students might have to swap their microscopes for magnifying glasses whilst English students flaunt their money on more leathery books and nicer paper. Whilst engineers stick to Meccano, archaeologists might go digging with gold plated trowels just for the lolz.

Besides, it’s not like the uni could price degrees based on running costs; otherwise we’ll just end up murdering the subject of physics with only a handful of doctors to deal with the carnage, and about 100,000 spare philosophers. A nightmare vision.

So yes, to study something you love and have the time of your life whilst doing it, £9,000 a year is a small price to pay, especially when you consider how little repayments will affect you later in life. And if you study a cheap subject and want better value for money, spend these years doing exactly what you want to do and living your life to the full… because that’s what you’re really paying for.


What’s your view? Can we all justify paying £9,000 for our course? Or is it unfairly balanced and in need of a reshuffle? Comment below. Alternatively, if you have a view you feel strongly about, contact [email protected] with your ideas and write for The Tab…