inexpensive pathways for math greats?
August 13, 2016 7:10 AM   Subscribe

My older one is great at math, worried about UK student debt, and wants to have the university experience. Are there distance or residential sub-£18,000 math degrees anywhere that offer a level of student experience akin to the tutorial opportunity and entertainment a student in university might have, or companies or organisations geared to these experiences?
posted by parmanparman to Education (16 answers total)
Have you read the Money Saving Expert article on student debt, and how it's not necessarily bad as it's made to sound? Sorry that doesn't answer your question directly, but it might address the "worried about student debt" part.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:55 AM on August 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Open University - under £18k, usually (but not guaranteed) face to face tutorials, not really got the entertainment/social factor.

On the presumption that Brexit will take several years - University in Ireland I think satisfies the requirements.
posted by Vortisaur at 8:01 AM on August 13, 2016

If you can hack Brexit-related uncertainty, I'd suggest s/he consider attending university in Ireland where EU citizens do not pay any fees (but students do pay "charges" of around €3,000 per annum). Accommodation and other costs of living will be much lower outside Dublin.

On preview, what Vortissaur said.
posted by bimbam at 8:09 AM on August 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's not easy to get into university in Ireland in competitive degree programs, which I believe includes math. So I'd definitely have a back up plan.
posted by fshgrl at 8:58 AM on August 13, 2016

What's "great at math". If it's "probably get into Oxbridge or one of the top London schools" they should incur the debt
posted by JPD at 9:01 AM on August 13, 2016 [6 favorites]

Foreign students don't have to pay any tuition in Norway and many programmes are taught in English. They do have to prove they can pay their living expenses but can work legally up to 20 hours a week.
posted by hazyjane at 9:01 AM on August 13, 2016

If she is great at maths, why is she worried about student debt?

This is sort-of-tongue-in-cheek. Does your daughter qualify for student finance in the UK? I ask because you wrote "math" and we usually say "maths" here in the UK. If she does, does she understand how the student loan system works here? In the UK, student loan repayments are made in such a way as to not be terribly punitive - as explained in the article *EndsOfInvention* links to.

Does she have a sense of what she wants to do after she graduates? A good mathematics degree from a good university can lead to a number of careers, including, if money is a concern, quite high-paying ones. In case it piques her interest, my field, statistics, suits maths graduates, has high demand for competent graduates at the moment, and is great fun.

Alternatively, some companies offer programs to school or college graduates which would suit someone numerically capable - KPMG is one.

What does she mean by the university experience? UK universities are diverse and the best maths programs may not be at the most experiential universities, so she may have to consider a few different options and priorities. The Open University offers quite a different university experience; OU graduates are generally held in high regard because their degree demonstrates their self-motivation.
posted by Erinaceus europaeus at 9:33 AM on August 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

"great in math" is a bit ill defined. if you and your child know and/or strongly believe they will excel at higher mathematics( including some aspects of physical and theoretical math) bite the bullet and debts incurred from a highly recognized university will be more than repaid. If you mean they feel comfortable with math, enjoy it and are good with basic algebra, calculus and solid geometry then some of the prior suggestions seem very appropriate
posted by rmhsinc at 9:36 AM on August 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

I came in to re-emphasise the first point: UK student loans are not like normal debt. You only pay them off as a percentage of salary above a (generous) threshold, and after 30 years anything not yet paid off is forgiven. Think of them more as a graduate tax.
posted by katrielalex at 9:39 AM on August 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

parmanparman: If your daughter is genuinely great at mathematics — she is on track for As at A-levels in Maths & Further Maths say — then she should absolutely go to a Russell Group or better University & get a decent degree. The lifetime benefits almost certainly outweigh the costs by a wide margin & the downsides are limited because student loans in the UK are structured as if they were a graduate tax. You shouldn’t look at them in the same way as, say, a mortgage & they’re nothing like credit card debt.

If she has a decent chance of getting into Oxford, Cambridge or Imperial then she should absolutely grab it with both hands. You’re welcome to MeMail me if you want to and talk this stuff over.
posted by pharm at 12:55 PM on August 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

s/she/he/ as appropriate :)
posted by pharm at 12:56 PM on August 13, 2016

Person seems to excel in higher and further pure math. Needs a competent tutor but its the person afraid of the debt responsibility. The rule for UK student debt has changed to where almost no one will be able to not be in the position to start paying because the income trigger is so low, at £21,000 income. I am also worried they won't have a rounded experience in university because of the single issue focus of higher degree training in the UK, the lack of general education hindering the ability to compete after graduation.
The desire to be part of a larger student experience is based on Person's experience of being a gigging DJ in the local area, playing some large nights and wanting to continue to build a portfolio within music while pursuing maths. Perhaps there are emergent professional DJ our musician forums or competitive programmes a UK young person could enter to complement the coming years?
posted by parmanparman at 9:10 AM on August 14, 2016

Well, there's absolutely nothing stopping them from doing a stack of DJing at the same time as being a student, whether for student gigs or mainstream ones.
posted by pharm at 2:12 AM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Regardless, I note that no-one has answered your question outright: as far as I’m aware there is no cheaper alternative program that offers a the student experience that adequately substutes for the tutorial opportunity & entertainment that actually going to a University & being a Student with a capital S offers. Actually being there with other people going through the same thing that you are is both a great social opportunity & a great academic motivator. It’s hard to get those things anywhere else.
posted by pharm at 3:08 PM on August 15, 2016

Paying 9% of your earnings over £21,000 makes UK student loans among the most generous in the world. That limit has been raised, not lowered, it was £15,000.

The 'debt' of a UK degree shouldn't put anyone off, but it should focus you to do something you are capable of and enjoy, and something worthwhile. Maths from a good Uni certainly ticks the last box and opens lots of doors.
posted by chrispy108 at 9:31 AM on August 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

Person can absolutely DJ and study mathematics. If DJ-ing is important to Person, then Person should find out where in the country there is the combination of a DJ scene and a decent mathematics degree program. That would make an interesting Ask.

If Person likes mathematics, you could suggest that Person look into concepts such as opportunity cost and net present value. With student loans in the UK, the person taking out the loan almost does not need to worry about budgeting for repayments. The amount that they owe is deducted from salary along with tax, and certainly until recently, student debt was not taken into account for certain decisions such as how much they can borrow for a mortgage - I am not sure if this is still the case

the income trigger is so low, at £21,000 income.

£21,000 is not a bad starting salary for a new graduate, to be honest. Perhaps Person should also look at income distributions in the UK and cost of living and things?

Person could model the effect of student loan repayment deductions on take home pay using a salary calculator such as this one, playing around by ticking and un-ticking the "Student Loan" box.

The UK degree system does require a relatively narrow curriculum from the start of the degree. Some UK universities allow part of the credit to come from courses from outside of one's regular subject. Person could also look into joint honours if they want a more rounded degree. Mathematics can be studied in conjunction with all sorts of subjects.
posted by Erinaceus europaeus at 6:10 PM on August 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

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