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UK Culture – What's a university education worth?
Introduction
This support pack accompanies the audio file 'What's a university education worth?'. To listen to the
audio file, go to:
http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/uk-culture/whats-university-education-worth
This support pack contains the following materials:
•
•
•
•
a pre-listening vocabulary activity
the transcript of the audio file
a comprehension activity
a vocabulary activity
Before you listen
Activity 01
Use the words and phrases in the table to complete the sentences below.
a. challenging
b. having a career
c. interest
d. repayment
e. salary
f.
g. student loan
h. summer job
i.
j.
tuition fees
struggle
wage
1. difficult but rewarding
2. extra money paid on a loan or bank savings
3. fight
4. getting a better job or salary within a company over time
5. money a student pays to a university
6. money borrowed from a bank or finance company
7. money paid back on a loan
8. money paid for a week’s work
9. regular monthly or annual pay packet
10. work between academic years
Transcript
Every year, it costs British students more and
more to attend university. Students are
graduating with larger and larger debts. So is a
university degree really worth it?
In 2006, the UK government started to allow
universities in England and Wales to charge
British students tuition fees. As a result, more
than 80% of students in England and Wales now
take out a student loan in order to go to
university. They use the loan to pay for tuition
fees, books and living expenses. Although the
interest on student loans is quite low, it begins
as soon as the student receives the loan.
The average student in England and Wales now
graduates from university with debts of around
£12,000. Students of medicine, who study for
longer, usually have debts of more than
£20,000. That is a lot of money. It means
graduates cannot afford to buy a house for
many years. They even struggle to pay rent on a
flat, because they have to start paying back the
student loan when they reach the April after
graduating (or after leaving a course). If you
start to earn over £15,000 a year, the
government takes repayments directly from your
monthly salary. Is it any surprise, therefore, that
the average British person does not leave their
parents’ home until they are 30 years old?
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The United Kingdom’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are registered in England as a charity.
UK Culture – What's a university education worth?
You might think that a British person with a
degree will find it easy to get a well paid job.
However, most people in “white-collar jobs”
seem to have a degree these days, so there is a
lot of competition. Also, British companies tend
to value work experience over a piece of paper.
Like everyone else, graduates usually have to
start at the bottom and work their way up. That
can be very frustrating for them, since they are
often over-qualified for the work they are doing.
While at university, they had dreams of getting
an exciting, challenging job. Therefore, life after
university ends up being quite disappointing for
a lot of graduates.
All of the above is beginning to make British
people question whether a university degree is
really worth the money. Even before the credit
crunch started, the BBC stated, 'The number of
British students at UK universities has fallen for
the first time in recent history... from 1.97 million
in 2007 to 1.96 million last year [2008]’. It looks
like the figures will continue to decline, since
loan companies are now telling some student
that there are no loans available for them.
Forecasts are that between 2009-19 there will
be fall of 6% in the number of 18-25 year-old
university applicants across the UK.
Students have always been seen as not having
a lot of money, but “student poverty” is now
considered a real problem in the UK. Most
British students expect to get a loan, part-time
job or summer job. Worse than that, however, is
the fact student leaders report there are
increasing numbers of students turning to crime
to support themselves financially.
By contrast, things are now easier for students
from other countries coming to study in the UK,
since the value of the British pound has fallen.
More international students come to Britain each
year. The British universities offer more and
more of the available places to richer
international students rather than poorer British
students. Some British people fear that, one
day, there won’t be any university places left for
British students at all.
After listening
Activity 02
Decide if each of the statements about the text are true or false.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
More than three quarters of all university students in England and Wales borrow money to study
Students tend to buy a house soon after graduating
Paying back a student loan is always voluntary
A degree gives people an advantage when applying for white collar jobs
Graduates often feel their first job doesn’t live up to their expectations
Numbers of British university students began to decline after the credit crunch
Students sometimes break the law to finance their studies
More international students are coming to Britain because the UK currency is weaker
Activity 03
Complete the sentences using vocabulary from the preparation activity.
1. We will lend you £3,000, which you will need to repay with .................... of 3% after three years.
2. Paying my fees every year has been a constant .....................
3. With such a small loan, I don’t know if I’ll be able to pay the .....................
4. I’ve got a good job, but I just wish the work was more .....................
5. When term ends, I’ll have to get .................... just to make ends meet.
6. The .................... is £140 a week, but it’s cash-in-hand, so you don’t pay tax.
Page 2 of 3
The United Kingdom’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are registered in England as a charity.
UK Culture – What's a university education worth?
Answers
Activity 01
1. a; 2. c; 3. f; 4. b; 5. i; 6. g; 7. d; 8. j; 9. e; 10. h
Activity 02
1. True – 80%
2. False – graduates cannot afford to buy a house for many years
3. False – If …the government takes repayments directly from your salary
4. False – …there is a lot of competition…British companies tend to value work experience over a piece
of paper
5. True – life after university ends up being quite disappointing
6. False – Even before the credit crunch…the number of British students… has fallen
7. True – …there are increasing numbers of students turning to crime
8. True - …since the value of the British pound has fallen
Activity 03
1. interest; 2. struggle; 3. tuition fees; 4. challenging; 5. summer job; 6. wage
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The United Kingdom’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are registered in England as a charity.
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