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From The Socialist newspaper, 27 July 2016

Tories plan further fee hikes for uni students

NUS student and UCU demonstration against tuition fees and education cuts, photo Sarah Wrack

NUS student and UCU demonstration against tuition fees and education cuts, photo Sarah Wrack   (Click to enlarge)

Aidan O'Toole Coventry Socialist Students

The Tories want universities that meet their backbreaking 'teaching excellence framework' targets to be allowed to increase the cost of their courses with inflation. Universities including Manchester have already announced their fees will rise to 9,250 in 2017, before parliament has even considered the measure.

The future is looking bleak for young people. Houses are unaffordable, jobs are low-paid and insecure, and education is becoming more and more elitist.

Universities received 9 billion in tuition fees last year, the highest amount ever. The government has cut central funding to 3 billion.

Rising tuition fees, along with the end of student grants, are increasingly pushing working class people out of higher education. Working class and some middle class students have to decide if a life of debt is worth a degree, which isn't a guarantee of employment. And that's only if they can afford to rent accommodation and feed themselves during the course.

It is no surprise that Jeremy Corbyn's call last year to scrap tuition fees resonates with so many young people. Anger is clear among students who feel like they are putting themselves in a lot of debt for not much gain. The 2016 Student Academic Experience Survey found that two thirds of students felt their degree didn't give value for money.

The Socialist Party says education is a right and should be free for all. It should not just be a privilege for the super-rich who can afford extortionate fees and high living costs, relying of the bank of mum and dad. We fight for an end to fees, cuts and closures in higher education, for a living grant for all students, and for the return of EMA student payments in further education.

Open University - open to who?

Caroline Vincent Open University student

The Open University until recently offered affordable part-time correspondence courses at degree level, but has been subject to the same changes in funding as traditional brick universities.

In fact, it had an even bigger hike in fees. In 2012, the cost of a 60-credit module - a sixth of an Open undergraduate degree - rose more than threefold, from 700 to 2,500. Since then there have been further annual increases - this year it has risen to almost 2,800.

While still cheaper, this expense is at odds with the founding principles of the Open University.

A Labour government established it in 1969. It was there for those who may not have had the best educational advantages, or who had been failed by their school experience and written off as non-academic. This second chance has been diminished by a 90 million loss in government funding.

Tuition fee loans are available. But for many would-be students, the thought of almost 17,000 of debt, often on top of other debts like mortgages, is unappealing.

This has been illustrated by a 28% drop in enrolment. Fees have made the Open University prohibitively expensive for the very people it was set up to help.

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In The Socialist 27 July 2016:


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