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From The Socialist newspaper, 3 February 2010

No cuts and no fees in further education

With unemployment continuing to rise, anyone would expect to see greater numbers of adults returning to education to re-train. However Harlow College near London reported just 1,000 mature students this year compared to 6,000 eight years ago.

Rae Lewis Ayling, National YFJ school and college student organiser

The reason? Funding cuts and mismanagement have meant cuts in courses. This is combined with steep increases in fees for adults returning to further education (FE). Now the government's latest review of FE, launched alongside the review of university fees, is expected to conclude that FE fees should go up for courses such as plumbing and is not ruling out fees for A-level courses for under 19 year-olds. How will this help those thrown into unemployment by the recession and its aftermath?

But this is not the concern of any of the three main parties. Their concern is how to force the cost of the bank bailout, demanded by their friends in big business, on to us in the form of cuts in public services. The government is considering forcing those who are paying the price of the economic crisis with job losses to also foot an increased bill for their re-training. What a damning exposure of their claims to care for ordinary working-class people!

The review's findings are due to be published in July. This means the main parties won't have to admit their support for what will be unpopular attacks on education until after the general election. Opposition from students who will be sitting their exams will be minimised.

These attacks must be resisted. In the current climate people need their right to education more than ever. When the capitalist parties and their paymasters in big business call in unison that they cannot afford to fund our right to education we must respond in unison that we cannot afford capitalism. Workers seeking to re-train and school and college students seeking to learn will see these attacks for what they are: a cold, callous and calculated attempt to push the recession's cost on to the backs of ordinary people.

Youth Fight for Jobs calls for action by students linking up with the education workers' unions to defeat these proposed cuts in the FE sector.

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