Top up fees are robbing pupils of future

LAURA Ruiz-Baxter gets up at 5.30am every day, cycles two miles, then spends two hours cleaning before cycling home to get changed for school.And now the 17-year-old Northgate A-level student faces the prospect of paying anything up to £15,000 a year to go to university.

LAURA Ruiz-Baxter gets up at 5.30am every day, cycles two miles, then spends two hours cleaning before cycling home to get changed for school.

And now the 17-year-old Northgate A-level student faces the prospect of paying anything up to £15,000 a year to go to university.

She said: "I think it's going to put many people off going to university.

"They are crying out for professional people in this country and hoping the fees won't put people off, but a lot of my friends are talking about not going to university."


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Laura is determined to realise her dreams by taking on a media studies degree after finishing school, but it is the thought of building up huge debts that is making Laura think twice.

She is already putting money aside from the £50 a week she picks up from her cleaning job and is even considering taking another job to give her savings a timely boost.

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She said: "I've been thinking of getting another job on top of the one I've already got.

"I know books will cost a lot of money as well as the fees. I'm trying to learn to drive as well."

Mum Margarita, a nursery nurse, is firmly against Laura getting a second job as it could have an impact on her school work.

Schedule

But Laura is adamant her hectic schedule does not leave her yawning through the school day.

She said: "It's not very nice getting up at 5.30am every day, but I'm more awake than most people by the time I get to school.

"It just annoys me when I tell people I'm a student and they think I lie in bed all day."

Student fees are a thorny issue. Debts are mounting, but top universities claim they need more cash to help them compete with international institutions.

Several suggestions have been made to solve the problem.

Laura is aware she will have to pay something in exchange for the career prospects a degree can give.

Several suggestions have been made to solve the problem.

Laura is aware she will have to pay something in exchange for the career prospects a degree can give.

She said: "I don't want to be living off the government, but I don't think money should be taken until students are earning a reasonable income and have some security.

"It's all right for Tony Blair to talk about it because he never had to pay student fees."

Dad Mervyn, a hospital engineer, said industry should contribute more towards educating the people that would eventually become their employees.

Laura's 21-year-old brother decided not to take the university path, but both Margarita and Mervyn said they were determined to pay whatever it costs to educate their children.

Margarita said: "To be honest, I don't know how we would have afforded it if both of them had wanted to go, but we would have found a way.

"There's no two ways about it, I work because I have to work.

"I'm prepared to work for whatever it takes to get Laura through university."

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