Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/181/7978
End Student Poverty
THIS YEAR is the first in which all students will face paying tuition fees. More than ever students will be straining under the weight of debts and poverty.
Kieran Roberts, Save Free Education (SFE)
As a result many will decide they can not cope with the pressure of debt and drop out. Others will decide to stay on their courses, but put off paying their fees for as long as possible, vainly trying to find money to pay them, with the constant fear of sanctions hanging over their heads.
This situation is a stinging condemnation of the higher education system in Britain. New Labour and before them the Tories bear the responsibility for this appalling situation.
However, the thousands of students who will march through London on 15 November against tuition fees and for the restoration of the grant will send a clear message to the politicians that students won't accept it anymore.
The demo will show that the anger against tuition fees and the abolition of the grant has increased, as more students and young people feel the effects.
University applications have fallen dramatically since tuition fees were introduced. By 30 June, the numbers applying for a university or college place were down 0.4% on the previous year.
The fall for mature students is larger at 1.3% for over 21-year-olds and 2.1% for over-25s. This fall comes after falls of 12.5%, 30% and 33%, for 18-21 year olds, 21-24s and the over-25s respectively in the first year of fees; proving that they are a deterrent from going to university for thousands.
At the same time, tens of thousands of students have been unable to afford to pay their fees. The Times Higher Education Supplement has revealed that the latest figure for non-payment of fees stands at £21 million.
At the University of Hertfordshire students owe £1.6 million, an increase of £400,000 on last year's figures. At Staffordshire University, 818 students, owe money to the university, a 50% increase since last year. At Manchester Metropolitan, £1.1 million has not been paid.
A report by South Bank University's finance director says that new universities (the ex-polys) are having big problems collecting unpaid tuition fees.
It particularly blames delays in assessment of fees and loans caused by local education authorities (LEAs) and by the Student Loans Company as creating problems for the universities.
But, like many other universities, South Bank still threatens students who can not afford to pay their fees with fines and exclusion.
These universities are doing the government's dirty work by penalising those students least able to afford their education.
In The Socialist 10 November 2000: