Students in UK and France: A struggling way of life?

Students in UK and France: A struggling way of life?

The student crisis in both UK & France continue to struggle people for decades, forcing them to give up the scholarship


EU Students and workers know the same feeling of austerity and hardship for a living.

Both countries are known to be among the richest in Europe; good culture, economy and education usually mean a happy way of life, a promising future for those who will participate into the next foundations of elites, scientists, politics and so on. Or so they say. But is it really the truth when unfortunate students are forced to giving up their scholarship for reasons that shouldn’t be?

That is the sad truth. We see our countries lacking students because of university’s unfordable fees or increasing living costs, especially in both London and Paris. And not only from the locals, but those coming from worldwide and overseas often witness how difficult it is once they’ve set foot on a new land. Most of them are scared of not being able to get through their scholarship with success, others have to find an evening part time job that is quite impossible to keep up along with their homework. Some of them are sometimes all alone in a new country, with no family to support them or to help them. Some lucky ones manage to get the full support of their parents or relatives to avoid the nightmare of falling deep into depression and debt. Some even get their hands on a precious student loan.

Isn’t education a right for everyone? It’s more complicated than that.

It’s quite difficult indeed to claim that education is a human right after all. It’s much more than a need if we want to have a better future. A need that has a cost. Modern society teaches us that. Money is what assures us our entry through halls of private or prestigious schools; money is what guarantees us to eat every day. The note and the coin rule our survival and buy our future. When our financial situation runs low, our brain is forced to look for quick solutions to fill up those pockets instead of concentrating on our exams. Exhausting shifts in a fast-paced working environment are mostly the daily routine for a mechanical brain. Everything that could help to survive becomes a student’s homework. And the student feels what a worker feels: austerity.

My personal experience showed me that I was not the only one giving up that private school I still cherish. We were meant to be future game designers inside the video game industry but expenses became too high as the price for a scholarship year fee was about £6,000. Part-time jobs were impossible to manage with homework alongside. Then I gave up after three months. Some followed, others have already left the scholarship a month before.

On your lunchtime, you meet your former student buddies serving behind a fast-food counter as a full-time worker. You couldn’t help but to ask them: “How it happened?” they looked at you in the eyes, almost sobbing, and they answered: “Money happened. And financial debts too.”

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In the past few years, an average of 50% of French students gave up the scholarship for money matters essentially and ended up team members in fast-foods or coffee shops. In 2012, that was 16% who cast aside their studies to face financial problems and the rate increases as the years pass. In UK, I know the struggle is quite similar: homelessness, unable to pay fees, the students can’t take it anymore. In France, student loans are granted, in the past few years, to son and daughters of elite families or to those who could cheat on a discriminate paperwork; having a single mum is not helping at all for example.

But the problem always was that loans were not granted to schools directly, but to consumers themselves. Yes, I said consumers or those-who-spend-student-loans. Because the sad truth is when one’s bank account is showing unusual numbers from an amount fronted by a contract, one cannot help himself by wasting those numbers in consumption. “How about a brand new car, darling?”

That was the story I heard from a bank branch manager.

I’m pretty sure that most people could remember that story about a young Londoner that wasted her student loan into her breasts improvements. A pretty huge amount if I recall.

So, how long will it last?

We don’t know for sure. But when governments fire teachers and start to definitely close schools off for budget cuts we might well worry about the future of generations to come.

A total control over loans granted to students could be a first step. The next ones are between governments hands and they need to see a spark on the water surface.

Adrian Keyes
Born in France, I mostly spent my childhood being fascinated by both American and Japanese cultures. I grew up not only as a French, but as a dreamer who wanted to discover other places. Thus I traveled for years. And if I was raised amongst computers and consoles with my older brother, I could say that I also learnt how to write stories I now want to see in books. Freelance writer, I'm also a gamer and a curious lad for everything that mankind created (science, literature, sports).

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