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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 July 2002

Student funding: New Labour Targets Students - Again

A REPORT by MPs on student funding has tuition fee hikes and high interest loans as its main proposals. The New Labour-dominated committee that wrote it is preparing for new attacks on the right to higher education.

Kieran Roberts

The government review of the student funding system later this year is likely to introduce some measures proposed by the report.

Tuition fees and abolition of the grant are a highly unpopular failure, leading to dramatic falls in the numbers of students from working-class and poor backgrounds going to university. Increasing fees or the interest rates on students' loans can only drive thousands more young people out of higher education.

The report claims that the proposed fee rises and high interest loans will raise badly-needed funds for universities. That's no consolation to the many young people who can't afford to go to university in the first place.

In any case, the vice-chancellors call for an extra 9.9 billion to be injected into higher education over three years. Raising interest rates on loans by 2% would raise just 400 million. Fees also raise 400 million - even if they doubled the money wouldn't come near what's required.

Both New Labour and the Tories have repeatedly slashed spending on higher education. Now New Labour wants students to pay the cost of filling the funding gap.

Students must build a mass campaign of action and non-payment of fees to win decent funding of higher education, the abolition of tuition fees and for the introduction of a decent grant.

If the government tries to implement higher fees, top-up fees or higher interest rates on loans, we will respond alongside students with immediate protests nationwide. Students must also put pressure on the NUS to call an immediate national demonstration against any attacks.

Putting University Out Of Reach

STUDENTS TODAY have to choose between working long hours in jobs on top of their studies or building up large debts at the start of their working lives.

Robert May

Everyone's heard of the conditions that many students live in. This isn't a chosen lifestyle, most students just can't afford any better.

For middle- to upper-class families who can afford to put their children through higher education this is not really a problem.

But working-class families are battling to put their children through university - you'd think that the government would help them out, especially if they hope to achieve their goal of getting half of all under 30 year-olds in higher education by 2010.

Why are they even considering raising tuition fees, putting university further out of the reach of thousands? They say it's for more funding for universities, but can't this money come from those who can afford it? Axing the royal train for example would put many people through university.

Blair seems intent on destroying his own idea of "a classless society".

With only the wealthy being able to afford a university education, only the wealthy will gain top paid jobs. Without an equal education for all, this cycle is very unlikely to be broken.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 19 July 2002:

Unite To Defend Public Services

Safety Before Profit!

Not So Generous Gordon

Student funding: New Labour Targets Students - Again

No To Bush's War For Oil Profits

Rape: "No" Really Does Mean No

Behind The Financial Scandals

Steel Jobs Massacre


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