Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/422/4934
Tuition fees repel poor students
THE CAMPAIGNING group Socialist Students has consistently argued that tuition fees would deter people from studying. Now, a new study, following a number of polls, shows that the £3,000 a year top-up fees put off working-class and some middle-class students from higher education. A large number also plan to live at home and go to their local university due to debt fears.
Previous studies showed drops in applications of 5% to13% but these latest findings, coming a week before the deadline for university applications, are expected to show a significant drop.
This counters the government's false argument that the new funding system would not put poorer students off because you only pay the fees once you earn a minimum annual salary of £15,000 and due to the new bursary scheme for poorer students. But by 'poorer', they mean students whose families' joint income is less than £15,000 a year! This means most working-class students won't get any bursary.
These same results show that universities are failing to sell their new bursary schemes; moreover 30% of bursary advisers don't even receive any information on universities' bursaries!
This government's new education 'reforms' are in reality an attack on free education and an attempt to force competition for funding between the universities. This is also to prepare the 'top' ones for privatisation and to compete on the international market, hence Russell Group Universities - the 'Top Universities' - are seeking to attract rich students and private funding.
This is creating a multi-tier education system where working-class and Black and Asian students are segregated into their local under-funded courses while places like Oxford become more white and middle class.
This drop in applications will pose a serious problem to most universities which are primarily funded according to their student membership. They will see immediate loss of funding for unrecruited students and will face reduced capacity the following year. This will add to the already escalating department closures, the shortages of facilities on campuses of poorer universities or particular courses, and hence job cuts for education workers.
Socialist Students campaigns on campuses and within National Union of Students to actively link up with education trade unions and launch mass joint action in defence of higher education. We also make links with other public-sector workers for trade unionists to defend jobs and services and fight for a decent future - a socialist future.
In The Socialist 12 January 2006: