The Socialist 18 January 2007
Labour Ministers make us sick
ANGER AGAINST TOP-UP FEES GROWS
Join the national Day of Protest against fees on Thursday 22 February
Applications for university places in September 2007 closed this week. These students will be starting in the second year of top-up tuition fees, paying £3,000 a year for three or four years. Already students are protesting and campaigning against all fees, with anger against top-up fees and the extra burden that they add to students' lives exploding into protests up and down the country.
Ben Robinson ISR national co-ordinator
For students preparing to start university, the cost of studying and living will have been big factors in their choices, and even whether or not to carry on in education. The reality of life at university, and beyond, is stark.
75% of students are in debt. Estimates say this debt, £20,000 at the end of a degree, will take 22 years to pay off. 93% of students rely on parents for financial support. Half of students work, on average for 14 hours a week. Many of these feel it affects their studies.
It is ordinary, working-class students who suffer the most. They are more likely to work, incur bigger debts, and less likely to get into prestigious universities, making it harder to get a good job at the end. 22% of students now live at home.
It is estimated that there will be 50 applicants per graduate job, with employers preferring Oxford and Cambridge and other elite universities. These two tiers in the education system explain why some starting salaries reach £35,000 and yet the average graduate starting salary, after taxes and debt repayment, is £8,500.
Living costs are going through the roof. Student housing is being privatised - meaning rents shoot up and standards hit rock bottom. Students at Durham University are fighting the latest rent rises - rents have risen by 50% over the last five years!
In London, the latest fare increases mean that it is the most expensive city for public transport in the world. Socialist Students at Lambeth College, and elsewhere around the country, have led a campaign against high canteen prices. All these things make life in education harder, but it is fees that are the killer blow. They put 15,000 off going to university last year and are driving 10% of students to think about dropping out.
The right to free education has been trampled on by Labour and before them the Tories. Students are saying enough is enough.
Get active, join thousands of other students in the Campaign to Defeat Fees, and add your voice to those already saying no more! For more information about the campaign and to sign the online petition, visit www.socialiststudents.org.uk
In this issue
War and terrorism
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news