Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/317/11597
Tuition fees must go!
BLAIR SAYS that every New Labour policy will go through a fairness test. What hypocrisy! This from the man who is pushing top-up tuition fees even though 80% of the population and most of his own party are opposed.
Allowing universities to charge up to £3,000 in fees will create a two-tier university system. The top universities charging higher fees will cream off the wealthy students while poorer students will get the dregs at the bottom.
A survey by the Association of the University Teachers blows the government's fairness arguments out of the water. Three out of four parents on modest incomes say they would be less likely to send their children to university if top-up fees are introduced.
72% said that if their children did go to university they would be more likely to choose a cheaper course.
The Higher Education Policy Institute says that even with top-up fees there is likely to be a £1.6 billion funding gap for higher education.
Where will that money come from if New Labour continues down the path of top-up fees?
The Russell Group of vice-chancellors from the most prestigious universities have been calling for some time for fees to be raised to at least £5,000.
How long before we move to the US system where tuition fees keep rising to pay for cuts in education budgets?
Labour MPs are feeling the heat. As one MP commented: "I have hundreds of sixth formers about to go to university and a wafer-thin majority.
"There's no way I am going to support this". (Financial Times, 6 September) If New Labour plough ahead with top-up fees in their present form, so many Labour MPs are prepared to rebel that they could be defeated in Parliament.
For all their bluster, Blair and education secretary Charles Clarke may be forced to make minor concessions to poorer students to try and win the vote.
But even if that happens students will still be faced with a mountain of debt at the end of their studies.
Tuition fees should be scrapped completely and living grants introduced for all students. The money is there to fund higher education but it's in the hands of big-business.
Just restoring corporation tax to the level it was at in 2000, before New Labour cut it, could raise up to £11 billion. Not quite what Blair means by fairness but then he is the bosses friend.
In The Socialist 4 October 2003: