Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/462/1708
Students can defeat fees
WE WERE promised "education, education, education". We got lies, lies, lies. "Students benefit because upfront fees disappear" is the line the government uses to promote top-up fees.
The problem is students and parents are not stupid and they've noticed the distinct lack of 'benefit' in a system that demands £3,000 a year for most courses! "Upfront" fees may disappear but in their place is the knowledge that you have massive and growing debts hanging over you.
Whatever the government says, students are acutely aware of this fact from the moment they register. That's if they register. You can only register if you can afford to pay your fees upfront or if you have proof that the student loan company have paid them on your behalf.
The government touts its targets of 50% of young people in university by 2010. This year, there are 15,000 fewer students on campuses. That's equal to a whole university's worth of students wiped out. Labour ministers called this a "strong performance". I'd hate to see a weak one!
The "student experience" itself proves that these education 'reforms' have a detrimental effect. Go to any campus and you will meet students who are struggling. Over 600,000 are in part-time jobs to fund their studies.
Tragically two young people have already committed suicide this year as a result of the stress of their enormous debts. For students the "student experience" of debt, poverty, stress, which are all confounded by the introduction of fees, is not sustainable.
There is 'no other way' to fund education but through fees. Or so they say. Incomes Data Services research shows that the average earnings of the top company executives are a record 98 times more than a typical employee, up from a differential of 39 times ten years ago.
This year if all the 389,505 students who registered were paying £3,000 it gives you a sum of £1.168 billion. That's a hundred grand or so less than Top Shop owner, Philip Green's salary for last year! By the way, he paid no tax on this fortune as he deposited it into an account in Monaco.
He's not alone either. According to The Standard: "More than 65,000 rich individuals live in Britain but pay little or no tax". That's just an inkling of where money could be found if ministers were not more concerned about their fat-cat chums than they are about our rights.
We know all the capitalist parties are liars. But what are we going to do about it?
Thousands of angry students marched through London on the 29 October NUS demo, ignoring the slogan of "keep the cap" and demanding free education. Unfortunately the NUS has not provided a strategy for building the fight-back.
Socialist Students are launching a Campaign to Defeat Fees because what's needed is a mass movement of demonstrations, occupations, mass movements involving students, education workers, parents and all who stand for free education.
We should aim to force the government to look elsewhere when it comes to financing education and to scrap fees.
Join Socialist Students: firstname.lastname@example.org
www.socialiststudents.org.uk Telephone 020 8558 7947
Write to Socialist Students, PO Box 858, London E11 1YG for more info.
In The Socialist 9 November 2006:
War and terrorism
International socialist news and analysis
Marxist analysis: history