Saturday, 21 March 2009

Burden of youth

I just don't know how today's youngsters manage to make their way in the world, with one burden after another being thrown at them.

Now British universities want to more than double tuition fees to £6,500 "to protect teaching standards". If they get their way, the average graduate debt could go up from £17,500 to £32,000.

As a result of acquiring skills that will benefit not just themselves but the whole society, they're stuck with a massive debt that could take years to pay off - if they can even find a job with a decent salary.

How lucky I was as an undergraduate to have all my expenses paid for me - not just tuition fees but subsistence costs and even travel costs from London to Buckinghamshire where I was studying. And I had no need to jeopardise my studies by taking a paid job.

Then if these debt-laden twenty somethings want to buy a flat or a house, they have to find further unbelievable sums of money, including the huge deposit that mortgage lenders now require.

If they also want children, more headaches. When I was young and relatives often lived close by, they helped with childcare and domestic chores and made life a lot easier for parents. Now new parents frequently have to fend for themselves and the extra burden takes its toll.

I look at youngsters grappling with all these modern pressures and I wonder how on earth they manage to survive without going under. Certainly bosses have little sympathy, and just expect their employees' difficult private lives not to affect their work.

I can only admire the resilience and determination that keeps young people going and set on getting what they want out of life, despite all the obstacles and boobytraps. I'm just glad I'm 62 and not 22 right now.

18 comments:

Yummy Mammy said...

Bless you for actually not being a person that looks down upon us younger folk and wonder why we moan and suffer. One point I'd add (naturally made fom my own circumstances) but the number of single parents these days is far higher, thus adding to the pressures. I'm lucky to have a good well paid job that I sweat blood to get in the first place. I look at other single parents and wonder how they manage. And as I look forward to the future I feel retirement may be something that never happens.

Nick said...

Yummy - True, there are many more single parents, and they don't get that much help either. There are still too many people who disapprove of them and haven't the generosity to understand their circumstances.

Baino said...

It's true Nick. Both mine have debts of around $25,000 which is taken out of their salaries, 4% of their gross is automatically debited to pay back their debt. My Uni was FREE thanks to a Teacher's Scholarship but even without that all i would have had to pay was union fees and books. No wonder my two are still living at home! Oh and as a single parent . .yep, I'll have to work longer just to get by.

Nick said...

Baino - How can any civilised society think it's normal for young people to have that level of debt? It's just a big ball and chain.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

There really should be some compensations for growing old, and I also feel bad for today's youth.

We are not leaving them an easy world to navigate and their only saving grace is that they are far more sophisticated than we were at their ages.

Nick said...

Heart - It's certainly not an easy world. And there wasn't any global warming when we were kids either. But as you say, today's youngsters are very sophisticated, especially about all the new technology.

Clare said...

Life is never easy, but a young life is an especially fraught one. Supposedly your school days are the best days of your life - maybe back in the day, but right now, it's a jungle out there.
I think i have more responsibilities, pressures and worries right now than I ever will have. That's life, but it is nice to know that it is recognized somewhere out there.

Nick said...

Clare - Life for young people today is extremely fraught. I remember how easy-going my first job was, with long boozy lunchhours and a very light workload. You'd be lucky to find a job like that now.

Caro said...

22... or 32 for that matter. I've just spent the day figuring out how much of a mortgage we can afford to saddle ourselves with and it's pretty depressing.

Although I was extremely lucky to finish university almost debt-free, thanks to the higher education grant.

Nick said...

Caro - Taking on a mortgage is hair-raising. We had two mortgages in London but were able to buy this house in Belfast for cash which felt extremely liberating!

Wisewebwoman said...

I believe we were the last generation to have it easy, monetarily anyway, Nick, the struggles of kids today are very tough and with this rapidly changing world they are very unsure of what degree they should invest so much money in. Skills are outmoded so quickly.
I wouldn't want to be young in today's world.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

www - Some skills change rapidly, some stay much the same (childcare, bricklaying). I think the big problem is that young people get much less support than we did - be it financial, social or psychological.

Quickroute said...

these days you're paying for an education to postpone umemployment - back to the 80's!

Nick said...

Quicky - I haven't seen any figures for uni applications recently, but I imagine you're right, a lot of people will be studying rather than fruitlessly looking for work.

Liz said...

Tell me about it. Younger Son re-started uni this year at great expense. Elder Son and wife live in london - what chance of them buying a home? Daughter and husband live a long way from family and both work to pay for their mortgage - what chance children?

And much as we'd like to solve all their problems, Husband is constantly wondering if his job is next on the redundant list.

But you've got to laugh - haven't you?

Nick said...

Liz - Goodness, it doesn't sound like much to laugh about. I just hope the economy improves soon and they have more chance of bettering themselves. And I hope husband's job is safe.

Dave Hampton said...

Hi, Nick, we were in a bit more fo a generational transfer. My parents supported tuition while we paid expenses; I've done the same for mine. The US costs are huge: about $1000 per week per child to attend a private school; half that for a state school. It requires setting aside from an early age (nostalgic to be cashing those college bonds after all these years), at the same time as setting aside for retirement, at the same time as setting aside for household savings...no wonder most people are leveraged to their necks in debt. And that was before the crash took 40% away.

Nick said...

Dave - My God, $1000 a week for a private school, that's unbelievable. As you say, if we want to provide for the future, we have to set aside bigger and bigger sums and live a rather restricted life in the meantime. Personally I've made no provision whatever for the future, so anything could happen.