'Paying my way through college' is a very American idea. In the UK for generations we've been incredibly lucky to have been blessed with free University education. Unfortunately this all began to change about 10 years ago with the Labour Party's introduction of Tuition Fees, closely followed by the concept of 'Top-Up' fees. Currently the average British student, studying in England for 3 years will have a student debt of at least £28,000. With the British Government's new plans to raise University tuition fees and slash University funding, this number will begin to sky rocket.
A country that has been used to ridiculous fees for Higher Education for years is the United States. There is an entire American Culture based around 'working your way through college'. It's a strange phenomenon for the UK to grasp, as such we're coming up with new and inventive ways of working our way through University. To inaccurately quote the new motion picture, The Social Network, "Harvard Graduates believe that inventing a job is better than finding one." - The same thing can now be said of British Undergraduates faced with the harsh economic climate and the lack of 'real jobs' in the 'real world'. British Undergraduates are inventing new jobs and roles for themselves so that they have some sort of income when they finish their degrees. We're taking the concept of 'working our way through college' and running with it. We're working our way through University and into new horizons.
There is now a whole new generation of British Entrepreneur who exist and have been born out of the bleak prospect of high fees for education and no dream jobs. Creating a job, an industry, is now safer and easier than trying to compete the very few graduate jobs; creating your role is by far more appealing than spending months pointlessly searching. Not everyone is succeeding with creating their own prospects, but it is bringing us new and exciting projects. A new energy is buzzing around startups. Previously web-startups were little geeky side projects that unexpectedly took off or big corporate plans. Now the web startup is being reinvented by the British University Undergraduate.
The long term plan behind my failed web startup, Vueo, was that it could become my full time job/place of employment after University. In fact Vueo was born out of University funding designed to get British students inventing their own jobs and creating their own prospects. For the past few months, whilst hunting for a 'real job' in the 'real world', I was working on TinyGrab full time. Whilst this might not have been the most financially comfortable of situations, I was existing on TinyGrab revenue. TinyGrab was allowing me to live my day to day life pretty well, whilst seeking something more financially stable and secure.
Perhaps I am not the best of example of British Undergraduates inventing their own jobs; however, I did 'invent' TinyGrab so that I could work my way through University and have some sort of job to turn to when I graduated. Since then I have sold out on the dream and the ideas. I don't have enough aspirations for my startups, if truth be told I'm a pretty awful entrepreneur in that regard. However I am talking with and helping out friends daily who are living the dream.
I do not agree with University education fees. I certainly completely disagree with the University tuition fee increase. However I am pleased about the opportunities that it has presented. I am pleased with the movement and subculture that it has inadvertently created. I'm happy and excited for the British Undergraduate who is working their way through college and saying a massive 'Fuck You!' to the system by going into the the real world and creating their own opportunities.