Uni will battle financial storm

EDUCATION bosses have today revealed Suffolk's higher education system is equipped to weather the current economic storm.

EDUCATION bosses have today revealed Suffolk's higher education system is equipped to weather the current economic storm.

Rather than become a casualty of the credit crunch, University Campus Suffolk (UCS) has decided to tackle the problem head on and devise a contingency plan for the future.

UCS will be represented today as Suffolk County Council meets to formulate a response to the current economic crisis.

All universities rely heavily on income from collaborations with local and national businesses - earning a record £2.6bn nationally from such partnerships last year - and UCS is no exception.

Richard Lister, director of planning and resources at UCS, has seen an increase in businesses touting trade.

He said: “We have noticed that companies we work with are phoning more often for work.

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“The research and skills training services we offer for businesses in the area don't seem to have been affected as much but we are sensitive to the fact that, in due course, employers will be tightening their belts.”

A recent NatWest bank survey calculated the total cost of a degree can be as much as £33,500, and students whose parents earn more than £60,000 could be affected worse than those from low-income households who qualify for financial assistance.

Top-up tuition fees of up to £3,000 a year were introduced in 2006 and can rise with the rate of inflation. Almost every university in England charges the full amount including UCS but a current cap on fees will prevent the cost of higher education escalating for at least the next two years.

Business and management is still the most popular subject at degree level, and previous recessions, like that of the early 90s, have suggested that business schools and universities tend to benefit - when faced with a job shortage, people have a propensity to ride out the storm by improving their CV and knowledge.

According to Mr Lister, this trend can also be applied to UCS. He said: “Our recruitment seems to be unaffected. If anything, we have noticed more people are wishing to further their education in their own region than move elsewhere and look for employment.

“We are hanging on the assumption that things will stay the same but it depends on how deep the financial trouble goes and how long it lasts.

“We want to be at the heart of the community and will respond as best we can.”

Have you decided to go back to school to survive the credit crunch? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The average cost of staying at home or moving away to learn:

The average UCS student still lives at home, saving money on rent, travel and food.

Tuition fees: £3,000 a year

Rent (including food costs): £40 a week payable to parents

Travel: £20 a week (journey from home to campus)

Entertainment: £50 a week

Total cost of learning at UCS - £8,720 a year

Students at other universities can expect to pay more in rent and travelling home, and have to buy their own food.

Tuition fees: £3,000

Rent: £100 a week

Travel: £20 a week + quarterly journey home costing £50

Entertainment £50 a week

Total cost of learning elsewhere - £12,040 a year

Saving made by staying in Suffolk to learn: £3,320

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