We had a great debate around where your tuition fees go, with staff and students sitting together to discuss and share opinions. Scarlet gave a fantastic, prompting, presentation, with some extremely interesting (an often unknown) facts and figures! Scarlet had also booked the world-renowned speaker, Richard Gerver, to come and help facilitate discussion (give him a quick Google, he's met some incredible people!) and he got some great discussion going.
We did not FB Live the debate, to create a feeling of a 'safe space' to air opinions and allow attendees to play devil's advocate at times. However, we did not want to leave people out, so we made sure to put lots of polls and thought-provoking ideas on our social media for people to get involved wherever they were.
We kicked off the debate thinking about what money means to us, and therefore what value for money really means. This was really interesting and most people agreed that 'value for money' can be very subjective, and depend on each person and each situation. In terms of university, this also comes into play - one person may value the money they make with their degree as getting 'good value'; another person may value their experiences through using facilities as getting good value for money. What does it mean for you?
We then moved on to thinking about where your tuition fees are spent. Scarlet asked all of the students to list where they thought their money went. She then asked them to get in the driving seat and think about where they would like their money to go, if they had to decide! This was a much more difficult task than we thought at the beginning. Where would you allot the money to if you had to decide? It's tricky!
We then discussed value for money in terms of university a little bit more and that took us on to who's responsibility it is to ensure students get value for money? The university needs to provide opportunities for learning and development in lots of areas, but should it be up to students to go and seek those opportunities out? Or should the university hand them to students more easily? Some students argued that in life you have to go out and seek opportunities yourself, so if university is like that then it's a good life lesson. However some said that you're paying to come to university so it is different - you should be told a lot more about these opportunities. What do you think?
We talked about LOTS more and will be sharing a more detailed summary of what was discussed with you and with the university to share your views on value for money. In the meantime though, keep looking out for our #haveanopinion campaign and ways to get involved and have your say!