Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/335/5641
Socialist Party Councillors Say No To Top-Up Fees
RECENTLY SOCIALIST Party councillors Chris Flood and Ian Page put forward a motion calling on Lewisham council and the three local Labour MPs to oppose top-up tuition fees. Here is part of Chris's speech.
"TOP-UP fees of up to £3,000 a year will mean many more students leaving university with huge debts of over £20,000. After tuition fees came in, we saw applications to university fall, especially from the poorest section of society.
Last year university applications from young people in England and Wales rose after falling in 2002, which is welcome. But the universities' 'clearing house' UCAS said applications from under-21 year olds in England rose by 1.5% and by 1.1% in Wales, whereas those from Scottish students, who don't have to pay tuition fees upfront, increased by 2.9%.
The argument that top-up fees will actually make students better off as the repayment threshold will increase is dishonest - student debt is set to double.
The government says higher education is a ticket to higher earnings. This might apply to someone working with a City firm but what about someone working in the public sector such as teaching and the NHS?
And the new funding arrangements will not solve the £8 billion black hole of under-investment in universities. Oxford University Chancellor Chris Patten warns that top up fees of £3,000 a year would only scratch the surface of higher education's funding crisis.
If we support this "co-payment" system, "marketisation", in principle then we'll be supporting future 'co-payments' in health and other public sector areas.
The government say everyone should contribute something to their education, But people already do... it's called taxation!
They then say 80% of taxpayers never went to university - so why should they pay? But on that basis why should those without children pay for schools, or those without cars pay for roads? Once political parties start to question who should pay for what, the idea of national collective provision crumbles.
This legislation will adversely affect applications, worsen debt and do little to address the current funding crisis. We call on this council and our local MPs to support Goldsmiths College, its students and future students by opposing this legislation and supporting our motion."
After hearing Chris speak, Lewisham council's Labour leadership ruled out voting as they don't deal with higher education! But such bureaucratic manoeuvres wouldn't be able to save New Labour nationally if the burning anger over top-up fees was fully organised.
In The Socialist 21 February 2004:
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