We are all familiar with the phrases ‘back in my day…’ or ‘when I was young…’ but how much can our parents and grandparents really relate to the world we now live in?
Times have changed rapidly, so much so that society today is almost unrecognisable to how it was when our parents were in education. With more people attending university than ever before, there is an overwhelming feeling of competition amongst young people. It is not only the looming cost of university that is making wallets (and hopes) seem empty, it is the temporary nature of our world. We are the recession generation, overwhelmed by a feeling of pessimism. We have watched the businesses closing down; we have seen people losing their jobs; we have seen the damage debt causes. The days of community, local businesses and job security are over, and we are left with the bleak prospects of a sparse job market, with the overriding sense of ‘every man for himself,’ and a reluctance to plan for a future that seems so fleeting.
As alien as it may seem to our elders, life is difficult and expensive these days, especially for students and young people. Grants are becoming a thing of the past, with the government deciding to scrap them completely from this autumn. It is impossible to know what the future holds, so investing in it can seem a daunting prospect, with many young people unwilling to take out a mortgage with the fleeting nature of jobs. Careers do not last forever, and the days of having a single job for your entire working life are over. When asked at school what we wanted to be when we grew up, the idea of being pessimistic, unemployed and in debt did not seem like a possibility. Sadly, these are the realities we face.
Some student loans do not even cover the costs of university accommodation, so finding a house and paying a mortgage is no longer as appealing a prosptect as it may have seemed years ago. With the average house price in 1973 being £9,767, it is shocking that this rose to £178,124 by 2014. This huge 1,724% increase in house prices means it is 18 times more expensive to buy a home than it was 50 years ago. If our salaries had risen to match this status, we should be earning 45% more than we currently are. This imbalance in earnings and costs discourages many young people from buying homes, and for many it is actually impossible. It is incredibly difficult to manage our money, especially in the recession generation we live in.
We are all students, working to better our future prospects, but with free tuition being a thing of the past and a lack of financial support, we are risking it all in the hopes of bettering ourselves. This is an admirable risk, perhaps something the older generations just cannot understand. With university no longer only welcoming the top 1% of students, there are fewer jobs for us, and competition is high. It is frightening to think about how different the world will be when it is time for us to use the phrase: “back in OUR day…”