Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/674/12179
Fight Welsh universities' fees hike
The Welsh Assembly government's promise to keep down annual fees at Welsh universities lies in tatters. A basic degree at University of Wales in Newport will now cost £27,000. No Welsh university announced an upper level below £9,000 a year.
Glyn Matthews from Youth Fight For Education called for the National Union of Students (NUS) and NUS Wales to organise a mass campaign to defeat the UK government's fee rises.
"There's no way I could have afforded £27,000 to go to University of Glamorgan. Even £3,400 a year, the current fee, is steep but reducing the subsidy will price thousands of working class people out of education."
Clearly university vice-chancellors (VCs) have a completely different agenda from most of Welsh society. The Welsh government is being led by the nose by these profit-driven executives. The VCs award themselves six figure salaries while courses are cut, jobs lost, working class students work 30 hours a week in jobs to get through their course and lecturers lose 18% of their salaries in real terms.
Welsh universities are being turned into businesses to service the wealthy with no sense of serving the community. The education system should be brought under public control and run by elected representatives. The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales should be wound up and replaced with a public body genuinely accountable to the people of Wales.
If the Welsh Assembly government does cut its subsidy Wales would be forced to adopt a similar higher education model to that in England with high fees combined with bursaries for a few 'deserving poor' students.
In effect this would be a return to the pre-war model where the rich have open access to university regardless of ability, while working-class students go cap in hand to bursary boards to plead for lower fees. The "scholarship children" of the Victorian era would be back in the 21st century.
The Labour-led Welsh government has meekly accepted cuts passed on by the Con-Dem government. Before the cuts hit, many people blamed the Con-Dems more than the Welsh government. As the Welsh government initiates more cuts this mood could change.
Socialist Party Wales believes that the Welsh government should not pass on horrendous cuts. The futures of thousands of Welsh young people will be devastated by the fees increases as they are barred from a university education. The Assembly should initiate a mass campaign together with trade unions, students, service users, disabled organisations, carers and working class people as a whole in Wales to resist all the cuts.
Welsh Labour has complained about the cuts but then implemented them. The Labour leadership believes that "cuts are necessary" but wants the Tories to carry out the messy work while Welsh Labour washes its hands of them.
But with its university strategy in tatters and whispers that EMA might also be threatened in Wales the Welsh government cannot escape responsibility for its policy forever.
It's not just education - the NHS cuts in Wales will be even more devastating with an 11% cut budgeted for compared to 4% in England. Working class people in Wales will have no option but to fight to retain basic provision and the Welsh government had better get out of the way.
Same scam, different wrapper
Cardiff University UCU (lecturers and college workers' union) member Edmund Schluessel commented:
"This exposes Labour Assembly education minister Leighton Andrews' claim of a 'Welsh approach' to education. This is the same scam as in England, in a differently-coloured wrapper.
"Talk of removing the rebate for Welsh-domiciled students shows that rebate to be another sham, a pre-election promise which the Socialist Party predicted months ago Labour would not keep.
"Aberystwyth University openly admits £7,500 fees would keep their books balanced but charged £9,000. These vice-chancellors are tin pot chief executives, cheerleaders for the worst excesses of big business.
"Meanwhile, as the whole higher education sector savours the prospect of these billions of pounds coming in, they offer the providers of education, lecturers, an insulting 0.31% pay rise. They also keep attacking pensions, victimising trade unionists and slashing jobs by the thousand. The market has no place in education".
So ironically, the global warming which will be accelerated by fracking is depriving Texan oil merchants of the water required to do their dirty work. Even so, we have been warned.
In The Socialist 8 June 2011:
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party women
International socialist news and analysis
Young people fighting back
Socialist Party news and analysis