Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/687/12871
£6,000 uni fees? An offer we can refuse!
'Labour introduced fees in the first place - I don't think they're a viable alternative'
Students starting university this year face many obstacles to getting the most out of their time in higher education. Hundreds of courses have been cut meaning limited options; the vast majority of canteens, bars and student services have been privatised leading to poor quality and high prices; accommodation is expensive and hard to find; because of a cap on student places, 200,000 cannot go to university. And for those who do go, there are university fees currently set at up to £3,375 a year.
Next year the Con-Dem government has planned to raise the fees to a maximum of £9,000 a year. This plan sparked a wave of mass protest among young people at the end of 2010 - anger which is likely to be re-ignited. While most ordinary people supported their struggle, no political party in parliament defends education as a right for all young people.
At the Labour conference, party leader Ed Miliband has promised that annual university fees would be capped at £6,000. A-level student and Newcastle Slutwalk organiser Lizi Gray - who is taking part in the Jarrow to London March for Jobs - told the Socialist what she thought of Labour's promises.
"I think it would be better than £9,000 but it's still disgraceful. It's still really unaffordable. I don't see why they should be charging for university in the first place. The only reason I see is to pay off the bankers' crisis. The fact is it would still be unaffordable for many young people wanting to go to university.
Labour have said they're not going to undo any of the cuts of the Con-Dem government either. Having Labour in power wouldn't be any better than the current government. I don't think they're making a case for themselves by saying they're not going to reverse the cuts and still charge extortionate amounts for university.
There should be free education for everyone who wants it really and guaranteed jobs to go into. This could be paid for by taxing the businesses that aren't paying their tax [calculated by the PCS union at £120 billion a year], which is basically just stealing from the British public.
It was the Con-Dems who have put the fees up, but it was Labour who introduced fees in the first place so I don't think they are a viable alternative. Just like the other parties, they're trying to keep their friends, the bankers and the big corporations, happy.
The 'looters' in Tottenham and elsewhere are getting ridiculous sentences for stealing things like toilet paper and bottles of water. But the criminals who are avoiding taxes by registering their businesses abroad - they should really be sentenced for it. They're criminals in that sense.
Public services should be in public ownership. We know what we need - rather than being dictated to by big business.
I'm hoping to go to university, and I'm also hoping to go into youth work after I've finished uni, but jobs are being cut in that too. So it's not looking like anything I want to do is a good idea at the minute!"
£1,000 fees were first introduced by Labour in 1998
£3,000 limit on 'top-up' fees introduced by Labour in 2006
£9,000 Con-Dem limit on fees from September 2012
In The Socialist 28 September 2011:
Building for 30 November strike
Jarrow march for jobs
The Socialist's editorials
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party review