The Socialist 23 March 2001
Blair's Hated Policies
Restore Free Education
STUDENTS IN all forms of education from schools to universities saw Gordon Brown's Budget pass them by. Yet again, Labour has failed to invest in the cash-starved education sector, failed to offer teachers the financial support they need and most crucially failed to address student poverty and debt.
Amrita Huggins, Save Free Education
Under New Labour, we've seen the disintegration of free education through the introduction of university tuition fees; next year's students will pay up to £1,075 for a year's teaching.
Labour eradicated the student grant, students must 'now survive on loans which takes them to an average debt of £6,000 on graduation at present.
As a further kick in the teeth, under-18s aren't even covered by the minimum wage, which was one of Labour's main selling points at the last election.
Labour's privatisation policies haven't stopped short of the education sector.
In Harlington community school in Hillingdon the Socialist Party is working with the campaign against canteen price rises since the private company Chartwells took over. in Waltham Forest we are involved in the campaign to stop the security company Group 4 from taking over the local education authority.
Blair's sole attempt at winning over students in time for the general election was through his promise not to introduce top-up fees if re-elected; at least in the next term of government.
University management, however, are enthusiastically pressing for top-up fees to allow them to charge what they want for a degree, pricing working-class students out of courses and professions such as medicine.
Recent estimates suggest fees could reach up to £12,000 if they are introduced. A generation of students who have seen the erosion of free education have given a cold response to Labour's cynical electioneering. Why should we place any faith in a party that has continued the Tories' policies of privatisation, cuts and the shifting of financial burden on to students' shoulders.
More and more students are joining the campaign -and going to demos and protests and refusing to pay their fees.
The Socialist Party is standing candidates in the coming general election to form a powerful opposition to the main capitalist parties, none of which are serious about winning back free education. We urge students to join Save Free Education in the campaign against fees and to join the Socialist Party to help us challenge New Labour at the election.
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