Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/458/5503
Fees can damage your education
Demonstrate for free education on 29 October
THERE'S one issue that weighed heavily on every fresher's mind this year - not their course, not their social life, and not even whether or not to join Socialist Students! That issue is fees.
In order to register, every student has to either pay up the £3,000 that most universities charge, or have the form showing that they have agreed to the loan which will pay these huge fees. In other words unless Ma n' Pa can cough up, you have to sign up to a pile of debt before you even get a reading list!
The government says that to improve both the quality of education and the number of people benefiting from it, they have to charge fees. Hmmm...
The introduction of top-up fees resulted in the first drop in university applications in six years. Meanwhile students have seen a deterioration in the so-called "student experience". Departments across the country teaching subjects such as anthropology, chemistry and architecture have been cut. Since 1980 the ratio of lecturers to students has fallen from one to nine to one to 18! Where has all the money raised by tuition fees gone?
Students have had to make up the money denied them when the grant was abolished. Between 1996 and 2006 the number of full-time students of all age groups who supported themselves through paid employment grew by more than 50%. On average, full-time students with jobs work 14 hours a week with one in five working over 20 hours. As a result a quarter of full-time students and more than a third of part-time students reported missing lectures or classes.
In an attempt to counter the harmful impact of paid work on full time studying, the Guardian reports that Vice-Chancellors have come up with the idea of getting students to clock-in to lectures. Apparently this way they will be able to identify truants and can leap to their rescue. But what exactly is the VC's strategy for paying rent, growing fuel and transport bills and of course paying off the fees which most Vice-Chancellors support? The Guardian did not say.
Bill Rammell, education minister, said you would have to be living on "cloud cuckoo land" to imagine that there was any alternative to charging fees. Oh really?
This government finds billions to spend on war and is proposing that £76 billion be spent on Trident nuclear weapons. We are told that there is no money for services while obscene profits are made by corporate fat cats. The cost of abolishing fees for this year's students, reintroducing a full grant comparable to its 1979 level (around £4,200), along with the reintroduction of the right to claim benefits outside of term-time, would be about £3 billion a year - or less than one-sixth of the bonuses paid out in the City this year!
Join the Socialist Students bloc on the 29 October NUS demo and campaign with socialists to build a mass movement of students and workers to fight fees and for free education for all.
Come to socialism2006 where there will be a debate on how can fees be defeated.
www.socialiststudents.org.uk for more info.
In The Socialist 12 October 2006:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news