It's official: students in England face £9,000 annual fees
LIAR: nick clegg promises to vote against fee increases.
If last month’s Browne Review was the warning shot, today’s announcement that the government intend to treble the cap on fees for higher education in England to an astounding £9,000 a year, is the declaration of war.
All universities will be able to charge up to £6,000 a year, double the current rate of £3,290. However, if certain conditions are met in relation to admitting students from ‘poorer backgrounds’, the top-level that universities will be able to charge will jump to £9,000. This is nothing more than an attempt to create a two-tier education system, where top universities are able to charge more and price out anyone but the richest. The measure to allow some students from ‘economically disadvantaged’ background is sheer tokenism and will do nothing to redress the already overwhelming inequality in access to higher education.
The vast majority of students will be forced to take out astronomical student loans to cover their fees – and proposals are afoot to raise the level of interest to well-above inflation. The huge rises in fees are to make up for the, in some cases, total departure by the state in funding for higher education. Indeed, in humanities, arts and social sciences, the teaching budget at English unis is facing a cut of 100% – the shortfall will be made up by students paying for it.
What’s all the more shocking about this is that if the proposals pass, it will be with the backing of Lib Dem MPs. The same Lib Dem MPs who stood for election on the basis of opposing rises in tuition fees – 57 of whom even signed an NUS pledge to vote against any rise in the cost of tuition. In fact, they went further than that – the Lib Dems said that they would scrap tuition fees altogether! But as we’ve come to expect from Clegg and pals, any principles they once pretended to hold went straight out the window when some shiny ministerial cars and cabinet jobs came along.
With the huge rise in fees down south, it wont take long for university principals in Scotland to begin ratcheting up the pressure on the Scottish Government to reintroduce some form of fees in order that they’re ‘not left behind’. But the fees increase in England can be defeated – last week’s militant demonstration in Oxford showed the level of anger among students at the government’s plans to wreck education as we know it. The campaign needs to be stepped up nationwide, and there’s calls for a national day of action on the 24 November, involving walk-outs, sit-ins and demonstrations. Next week, tens of thousands of students from all over the UK are expected to take to the streets for the join NUS/UCU demo against education cuts in London, in a huge show of force against the attacks on education. The government needs to be made to listen – and if enough Lib Dem MPs can be forced to abide by their election pledges by voting against, rather than just abstaining, the rise in fees, it will fall.