Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/147/7748
STOP Labour's pay as you learn con
ACCESS TO university will become even harder for working-class students if new plans to hike up tuition fees materialise.
Save Free Education (SFE) campaigners warned from the outset that the introduction of tuition fees at £1,000 would be the thin end of the wedge. Already Labour's broken its promise by increasing fees. Britain could follow the experience of Australia and New Zealand where fees rose dramatically within a short period.
Education minister Blunkett admits that if Labour win the next election they may allow Britain's best universities to charge a top-up fee.
College heads from the elite universities like Oxford and Cambridge want to charge up to £7,000 a year, the amount foreign students are currently charged.
The government's real agenda is to nudge education towards a two-tier system - if you've got the money and background you can have the best, the rest of us can put up with the crumbs.
Colin Campbell, vice-chancellor of Nottingham University, said: "In every country planning for the knowledge economy, they know they cannot turn to the poor down-trodden taxpayers to subsidise students who are going to earn a lot more than they are gong to earn". This is a blatant divide and rule tactic.
By abolishing free education, they are abolishing the opportunity for working-class students to have access to the best education.
The campaign to build mass non-payment of tuition fees must be stepped up.
The Socialist says:
§ Support the SFE's call to mobilise students for a lobby of Parliament on 7 March.
§ Build mass non-payment of tuition fees.
§ Defend any student disciplined for not paying fees.
§ Fight to restore student grants.
Stand up for your rights
NEWCASTLE STUDENTS stepped up their campaign for mass non-payment of fees with a lobby of the local MP and a march round the city centre.
Elaine Brunskill, Gateshead
"We picked up people as we went along", said protester David Raynor. "Next time we'll get more. If students are shy we'll give them confidence."
Emma Boulton Roe said: "I've had to take out all the loans available to me. When I leave university I'm going to have to pay this all back - around £10,000. I still don't have enough to live on so I work in a pub for £3.60 an hour."
"All of these changes have made it really difficult for my parents", added non-payer Angela Neath: "They're having to help me out because I can't even get the full loans."
"We're letting people know we're not going to just sit on our arses", said Matthew Aistrup. "We need more people - there's strength in numbers."
In The Socialist 3 March 2000: