Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/221/9180
Scrap Fees! Restore the Grant!
FOUR YEARS of New Labour government has left Higher Education in crisis. Several former polytechnics face fines from HEFCE (the higher education funding council for England) for failing to recruit enough students.
On their election in 1997, Labour announced its aim to get 50% of young people through university and promised funding to do so. Much of this funding, however came from the tuition fees (introduced by Labour in 1997) and money saved from scrapping the maintenance grant!
The £1,075 yearly fees and the prospect of £15,000 to £20,000 of debt is forcing thousands of students to drop out of college and preventing many more thousands from going altogether.
Labour's elitist education policies are an attack on working-class people. It's the less prestigious colleges that have suffered the worst shortfall of students; Humberside, Lincolnshire and De Montfort universities have closed campuses in an attempt to save money.
The teachers' union in higher and further education, NATFHE, predicted hundreds of job losses from struggling colleges such as Luton, which is to make 98 lecturers and staff redundant from so-called 'non-viable' subjects.
Ministers try to play down the effects of the tuition fees and loans system, saying that the shortfall of applications is due to 16-year-olds from low-income families leaving education.
Might that be because young FE students aren't entitled to financial support and are forced to rely on their parents and anything they can earn from part-time work?
It's up to all students whether at school, college or university to fight against the cuts, fees and privatisation and for a living grant.
The government has been forced to scrap fees in Scotland and Wales and to rule out top-up fees, but only under pressure from students and because thousands are unable to pay fees or refuse to do so. 2,400 students at the University of the West of England had still not paid at the end of last term.
We are building the campaign of mass non-payment of tuition fees and, if non-payers are threatened by their college, defending the students with protests and occupations. By uniting with education workers and trade unions we can win the fight for a publicly funded and democratically controlled education system.
- Scrap tuition fees. Build mass non-payment.
- Reinstate the student grant. Free education for all.
- No to exclusions! Re-register all second and third years.
- Join Save Free Education.
In The Socialist 14 September 2001: