At the end of April 2018, Anna Wooley from Edge Hill University visited the school to talk to Year 10 about life after Ridgeway and particularly about the value of further and higher education. Her message was that the time to be thinking about post-16 pathways is now. Entry on a particular university course at the age of 18, she reminded them, will be affected by A level choices made over the coming year.
Anna covered in some detail an issue that concerns students and parents alike – tuition fees. Currently fees are around £9,000 per year, which seems an enormous amount, but she was keen to stress that this money does not have to be paid in advance. Instead, every student takes out a tuition fee loan, which is only paid back after graduating, when in employment and earning above roughly £25,000 per year. Even on such a salary, she pointed out, the monthly repayment is less than the cost of many phone contracts!
Anna talked about living costs for students at university to pay for rent, food and other essentials. Again, this is currently covered by a loan but, she said, special grants are sometimes available, linked to hardship, academic ability, sporting excellence or volunteering. A key theme of this excellent, informative talk was that money issues should not be an obstacle for anyone thinking of applying to university.
A few days later, twenty Ridgeway students paid a reciprocal visit to Edge Hill’s Ormskirk campus. Fortunately, on this occasion the weather was hot and dry, in stark contrast to the Year 9 visit a few weeks earlier in the teeth of ‘the beast from the east’!
Students heard a talk on potential careers, were shown what is required to study to get to university and were given the opportunity to work backwards to see what they need to do next year to ensure that they have appropriate qualifications for their chosen specialism.
They toured the campus and were free to ask current undergraduates about all aspects of university life – helping to get a sense of what going to university is really like.