You ask: “Will top-up fees damage architecture?” (13 May, page 17). The answer is yes.
I began a full-time course in 1968 thanks to the then Labour government introducing student grants for tuition fees and subsistence. Even so, when I left for my final “year out” at the age of 25 all I had were two pairs of 501s. My working parents could not afford to pay for my education and to enter a relatively poorly paid profession with debts of £30,000 was enough to put off all but the wealthy.
It was quite a culture shock for a number of tutors to find their students no longer exclusively the “sons of gentlefolk” and it is very depressing to find this back on the agenda.
Incidentally, with all New Labour’s talk of repaying the cost of one’s education, I have been continuously employed for the past 30 years and consider that the Inland Revenue has recovered the cost of my education dozens of times over.
Greg Gordon, development architect, LHC building components and services
… A cool £48,000
I am a chartered quantity surveyor in my late 50s currently working on contract with an average income and no security or pension. I have a daughter in the second year of a four-year BSc course in architecture. This costs £7000 a year, including fees of £1100. If she continues on to do the four-year RIBA part 2 exemption course this is likely to cost £9000 per year with top-up fees. Her total debt after six years will be £24,000 to the Student Loans Company and £22,000 to her parents. If we as parents are able to absorb the £22,000 she will owe us, and this is dependent on my employment continuing for a few years, she will be starting work with a debt of £24,000; if not, the debt could be as much as £48,000.
How does the government expect a young architect to be able to pay back this sort of debt when salary rates are so low? These are not accountants or lawyers who can expect to command high salaries in their early working years. In general, an architect will not earn a reasonable salary until their early 40s – if they are lucky. At that age, they will have other calls on their income and could hope, perhaps, to be buying a house and be supporting a couple of children with, of course, possible university costs to follow.
David Davies, quantity surveyor, Chester