Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/554/6564
Newcastle University chancellor is out of touch
Showing no concern for the welfare of students, the Newcastle University chancellor Lord Patten described tuition fees of £3,145 a year as "intolerably low" at the headmasters' and headmistresses' conference last month!
Ian Pattison, Newcastle Socialist Students
Lord Patten went on to say: "Can there be a middle-class objection to higher fees? It is surely a mad world in which parents or grandparents are prepared to shell out tens of thousands to put their children through private schools to get them into universities, and then object to paying a tuition fee of more than £3,000 when they are there."
What the former Conservative minister and Hong Kong governor fails to realise is that 71% of Newcastle students come from non-fee paying schools. Lord Patten also conveniently overlooks the growing number of young people who are being priced out of education. He ignores the fact that three quarters of students are forced into part-time work, and the many who drop out of university altogether due to financial pressure.
Students certainly have a different view on things. Hundreds signed the Campaign to Defeat Fees (CDF) petition during freshers week at Newcastle and Northumbria. Thousands more have signed the petition nationally.
On the CDF national day of action on 16 October, 100 Northumbria students signed a petition to support a referendum on whether the student union should affiliate to the CDF. 230 more signatures are needed to ensure that it will be ordinary students not the pro-Labour, NUS leadership who decide what action is taken against tuition fees at Northumbria.
In his speech, Lord Patten did raise the important issue of university funding, which concerns many students. He saw increasing the already heavy burden on students as the solution to higher education funding problems.
But billions are being wasted on imperialist war, £76 billion is being used to renew dangerous nuclear weapons systems, and hundreds of billions were found to bail out failed capitalists. Why can't the government fund free higher education, and why are students being forced to pay for it? No to fees! For free education for all!
In The Socialist 29 October 2008:
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