Sunday, 10 October 2010

Students are being sold out.

Once upon a time there was a party that had the noble ambition of scrapping tuition fees for university, and letting the poorest in society aspire to better themselves. Now they've sold them out. In one fell swoop the Liberal Democrat's have died.

I might be Labour but I admired the Lib Dem's for sticking to their guns and vowing to abolish tuition fees, and I know they won a lot of student votes on the back of that promise. Now they've decided that getting into government means that you don't have to stick to what you've said before and they've abandoned their plans for a graduate tax, opening up the way for a rise in tuition fees.

I hope they prove me wrong, but I'm not counting on it. All the expectations are that tuition fees will rise to £7000 and an end to the interest free repayments. Frankly a disaster for students.

Vince Cable is now trying to con us into believing that somehow making everyone pay higher fees and tagging on making those in better employment pay higher interest repayments is progressive. It's insulting to students intelligence. Nothing about this whole shambles is fair or progressive. You're still crippling students with an extra mountain of debt.

So many of the Lib Dem MPs signed a pledge before the election saying they would vote against a rise in tuition fees. But now that they're in the coalition what are they 'allowed' to do? The only way they can show they oppose any rise is to abstain from the vote, they're not being allowed to vote against it. Now with the Tory's having more seats than Labour, and the Lib Dem's not voting, that vote will go through. They might not actively vote for it but make no bones about it, they're letting it happen just as much as the people who do vote for it.

The broken NUS pledge, as signed by Nick Clegg and Vince Cable.

It's completely the wrong way to go, when the economy needs a jump start you should invest heavily in education, not make life much harder for students. If you want to see growth in the future you need to train them in the here and now. You can't snap your fingers and have a highly skilled work force, it takes time. That means supporting people through their education so that you can reap the rewards when they're creating wealth for the country.

But then again, I suppose that's what you get when you ask for a review and put a former boss of BP in charge. Wow, isn't a shock that the former head of a massive business favours a free market approach to education. Since fees were raised courses haven't got better and student satisfaction is the same. They're asking for more money for less.

Saddling people with debt will put people off coming into university in the first place but will also stop those who are already in from moving on when they graduate. The left is often accused of being 'anti-aspirational'. What could be more anti-aspirational than putting up a huge roadblock in the way of people's learning?

At the last election over 60% of students said they were swayed in their vote choice by the parties position on tuition fees. I think the Lib Dem's have just alienated their very last dregs of support, can they really slip much lower than their current 12% polling? And another statistic, 70% of students would have to reconsider going to university if fees were raised to £7000. Guess who the hardest hit would be? Yep, those lower down the social ladder that the government is so keen to claim its helping in the name of 'fairness'. Those with the most to lose and without a safety net of rich mummies and daddies can't take the risk of going to university with graduate prospects so poor at the moment.

Edit: In fact, from what I've just seen things could be even worse, apparently the report's now going to suggest NO limit on fees, meaning elite universities could charge as much as they want. Do that and our country goes back decades in terms of social mobility.

Frankly horrendous, I hope students are feeling militant over this because it just cannot be allowed to happen.

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