Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/639/10277
Stop the higher education lock out!
Cambridge Socialist Students protest, photo Cambridge Socialist Party
"If we have a highly educated and idle population, we may possibly anticipate more serious social conflict. People must be educated once more to know their place."
This was reportedly said by a senior civil servant in an interview in 1984. But you might be forgiven for thinking it had been said just yesterday by David Cameron, Michael Gove or any of the other government ministers who seem so intent on dismantling our education system.
And they may well be worried about 'social conflict'. The attacks on young people are becoming unbearable.
Universities are being run into the ground by continual cuts to the higher education budget - currently totalling £2.5 billion. These are already starting to hit students hard. Manchester University alone is cutting 90 courses this year. And going to university doesn't even guarantee a job - one in ten graduates are unemployed.
But despite all of this, young people are still desperate to have the opportunity to go to university, as shown by the scramble to avoid disappointment after this summer's A-level results.
This isn't even just a case of making students and young people pay the price for the banker's crisis. £2.5 billion might be a drop in the ocean of the deficit but why have 150,000 been locked out of university by the government's cap on places?
Why will the Browne Review into university funding recommend that fees are raised to £7000 a year even though two thirds of students say this would put them off going?
It's an attack on our right to receive an education at all. This government wants university to be an option only for the rich. Approval has just been given for the second private university in the UK to open. It will be able to charge whatever fees it likes.
We are quickly heading for a situation where the best universities charge extortionate fees and students from poorer backgrounds either go to a second rate institution or just head straight for the dole queue.
Two thirds of students already have to work to fund themselves through university and as more and more of their parents lose their jobs, this will only increase.
Only 6% of children who receive free school meals go on to do A-levels and only 45 go to Oxbridge (as opposed to 82 from just one of the top private schools in London). It's an 'us-and-them' system.
But the coalition government should be warned. We have been 'educated to know our place' and it's not on the scrapheap of unemployment and debt fuelled poverty.
The need for a mass campaign to fight for the right to education and a decent future for all young people is more urgent than ever.
Join the Youth Fight for Jobs day of action on 20 October when further cuts will undoubtedly be announced in the spending review. Email email@example.com to get involved in your area.
At Socialism 2010, Socialist Students and Youth Fight for Jobs will host 'Youth Fight for a Future' to discuss the way forward. Previously, we have debated with NUS, the young Conservatives and Labour youth. See www.socialism2010.net for details.
In The Socialist 22 September 2010:
Socialist Party youth and students
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news and analysis
Organising to save jobs and services
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party campaigns