Freeze Tuition Fees
Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced the coalition’s plans to allow universities free reign over tuition fees. Although the Liberal Democrat party, of whom Cable is a member, had made a key election pledge to prevent the increase in tuition fees for British students, the coalition is in danger of neglecting its promises in a surprisingly ill thought out proposal to help the government cut 80% of its education funding.
Whilst no student or future student wants to be saddled with the prospect of crippling debt at the age of 18, very few alternative suggestions have been presented directly to Vince Cable and the cabinet.
Here are a few:
•Take a closer look at school funding. If I remember correctly, my own secondary school had a modern foyer and reception, plasma screen televisions in the corridors, interactive whiteboards…and textbooks from the 70s. Head teachers and Principals need to have their spending closely monitored; Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) could be made responsible that the school is fully functional from the ground up. This could also be applied to the newest Academy Schools
•Schools in ‘Special Measures’ can still go on to nurture fantastic students. The nature and criteria of ‘Special Measures’ needs to be made clear to parents and the public to ensure that schools are not attempting to cheat the system by applying for more funding than they should
•Viable alternatives to university need to be created. It should no longer be held that unless one is educated at university, one is not educated at all. Each year around the time of A Level examinations and results, numerous adverts depicting the advantages of apprenticeships, work experience and diplomas are televised, but they do not seem to really exist. This needs to be addressed
•Quality, not quantity. University should no longer be portrayed as just a ‘rite of passage’ – Sixth Form and College students are adults, and must show their commitment to their studies should they wish to gain university places. The bottom 10% of British universities are still underperforming as they had done when they were polytechnics, draining resources and acting as a ‘mop’ for young people. Their degrees could be converted to college diplomas, and the UK’s position in International league tables would be increased
•Demand funding from Scottish students. As someone with Scottish blood, even I can see the unfairness of British taxes funding the Scottish education system with no monetary return. This would take an incredible amount of pressure off of students from the rest of the British Isle
•Regulate ‘philanthropy’. After the government’s calls for private funding for the Arts sector (a system that thrives in America), the same could be applied to Education in the short term. The bitterness that the country still feels towards those who perpetuated the banking crisis should be fairly addressed, and high-income sectors such as banking could become representatives or ambassadors of selected institutions without the need for privatisation
I hope that these points illustrate the fact that alternatives do exist; they need to be hammered out by a committee of university representatives from across Britain and made publicly accessible.
Thanks for this idea. We’re looking into what we can do to help.
We’ll update you soon.
No Need to Demo commented
Rather than people Riot and get the Murdoch press on the high ground.
What if everyone concerned about fees who's going to Uni in Sept 2011....Simply just did not go, either deferred for a year or just went and signed on.
In the UK the Student Experience since the late 1990's is essentially a consumer one. The benefits to the government and economy from large student numbers in recent years include.
Growth in public transport.
Growth in the financial services sector
A huge amount of part time casual labour which the CBI love (call centres, retail etc.)
Large spends in the service and leisure industrys.
Lots of this is dependant on us having large volumes of young people, who are mobile, travelling from city to city & engaging with the economy in a friviolous way.
So lets just say if huge numbers just went and signed on or did nothing it would really hurt the tories and the tax burden through less money sloshing around in the general economy. Whole courses would have to be abandoned, there would not be enough Foreigners or Rich kids to stop it. The government would not have time to take any real steps and so would look stupid, with a massive increase in people on the dole, Osbournes sums would be wrong and the various global thinktanks would pick up on this and...
Hi Onna8, thanks for voting :)
I know what you mean - the campaigns are 'grass-roots' at the moment; but necessarily so. The fact is, students cannot withdraw a valuable service or labour, so the student demonstrations won't have as much immediate impact on public policy as a Trade Union strike would, for example.
However, if parents support the strikes by taking the bull by the horns and organising walkouts or protests under the banner of their own businesses or industries, that would have a massive impact.
No time like the present.
Thanks for commenting again Michael.
I think we're actually in agreement - the belief that everyone should/MUST have a university degree to gain any kind of employment is outdated and, frankly, ridiculous.
There are two parts to the argument, I think. Firstly, you're conflating academia and research with the courses that could easily be converted into diplomas or on-the-job training. I'm talking about Mathematics, English, History, Physics, Medicine (etc.) vs. Theatre Studies, Media Arts, Business Management, and so on.
So that's the first part of my main argument - universities are not just pretty buildings to put young adults into as an alternative to national service. People need to earn their places, work hard, and make a real decision as to why they want to study there.
Secondly, as you point out, qualifications of any type are no guarantee of employment. An endless stream of qualifications can be just as useless as no qualifications at all if they're not applied correctly. Quality not quantity applies to everything these days.
So the second part of my argument is that there needs to be a viable alternative to university - as my suggestions include, these could be apprenticeships, vocational diplomas, work experience...all the things that the govnt. keep mentioning, but never really materialise.
Two further points on British vs. other countries' attitudes towards fees:
1. They have completely different economic foundations; in some cases, they pay high wages and take high levels of tax, and subsidise the education system from elsewhere.
2. Not everyone's parents pay for their education.
Overall then, it comes down to this:
If you have talent, passion and intellect, you should have the chance to enter university.
It should have nothing to do with what mummy and daddy can afford.
Thanks for reading,
I would like to form a campaign after the vote to prevent the implementation of this policy. It could be called parents against the cuts and fees. I am worried it is all just going to die away. I find that too many people don't realise how much it is depressing young people and that they don't want this debt. I feel very let down that more people are not doing something but leaving the young ones - like my 14 year old - to do all the fighting.
Whatever the vote on Thursday, we WILL keep campaigning. We'll show them 'Big Society'.
Keep campaining ! more petions it our future and our right we have to pay the money not them! our future not theres and we have a right !!!!
THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE VOTING ON TUITION FEES ON THURSDAY 9TH DECEMBER.
JOHNNY CHATTERTON AND OTHER 38 DEGREES ADMINS: IF YOU'RE GOING TO HELP WITH THIS PETITION, THEN PLEASE HURRY UP!
@ Michael Fisher: thank you for raising the point about grassroots abuse of the system - 'less universities and more colleges' is one of the ideas put forward in the extended bullet points in the petition outline.
In the words of Ian Hislop, 'we need to stop thinking about everything in terms of how much money we chuck at it'. Those who attend university do not necessarily leave with an education; those who do not enter uni are not necessarily uneducated. Culturally, we need to redefine our terms.
Vince Cable may even be voting against his own policy, although Clegg is still in favour: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11874406
Raising tuition fees will alienate and punish students who, thankfully, are not a part of the 'lazy student' stereotype. I am also deeply concerned with the news that despite the subsidies Wales and Scotland receive from England, it is English students across Britain to whom these raised fees will be applied.
I am not clear as to how either Wales or Scotland can justify their effective discrimination against English students who would like to study in Welsh/Scottish universities - moreover, even if those prospective students go on to study in England, the raised fees will come as a result of the Welsh and Scottish refusal to contribute to the education system financially.
p.s. Sandra: I'm so sorry to hear about your university :( If you want to comment on my article and publicise what's happening to you, you're more than welcome - I can pass on the details to the campaigners at my alma mata if you like?
Take care, all the best
@ Sandra: Thank you so much for your support :)
Yes I have to say I agree with you: no-one is fooled by these cuts any more. We can all read the news - Vodafone is just one of many corporations AVOIDING (not evading) taxes, because they are too close to those in power; it was the same for Labour and the Banks, and we all know what happened there...
The Coalition needs to be held under stricter regulations. Cameron and Clegg need to be held to account for false election promises. Remember: quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
@Annie, I just read your article. Very well-written and so true! Keep it up :)
I completely with Ucef. Vodafone currently owes the government #6bn in unpaid taxes. Coupled with George Osbornes #1.6m, as well as the estimated billions of pounds worth of tax evasion by the rich, it seems to me that the people that should be targeted by the cuts are not the most poor and vulnerable (students) but the GREEDY and selfish tax evaders and the bankers. After all, they are the reason we are in this mess. Michael Gove hasn't a clue what these plans will do to the future of this country because he's too short-sighted to see past his pay package. These policies are economically illiterate and elitist and i'm shocked that 38 Degrees has not already taken this up as a campaign. We ALL need to be a part of the wider student movement to block a near tripling of the fees from #3290 to #9000. Education should be for the masses, not for the few that can afford it.
One more point; many unis, including my own, will have their ENTIRE funding cut as they specialise entirely in social sciences and languages. Social sciences are JUST as valuable as maths and science. Don't let them break our futures like they broke their promises!
@ Anonymous Please: Firstly, thank you for voting :)
You make a difficult point. I agree with you in principle - those levying the current changes benefited from a free university education when they were young, so they are possibly the least qualified people to attempt to explain how loans and fees will effect the rest of us!
However, we can't punish people for living in a different time - free university was avaliable when they were young, and they took it. It'd be a bit like asking an obese person who had once benefited from a hip replacement funded by the NHS to pay for it now, now that they're not avaliable any more.
On the other hand, if fees/loans/taxes are to be applied to our generation, why are they not applied to the Scottish at the moment? According to Tuesday's 'Guardian' (see below), Scottish universities are thinking about raising their fees ONLY for English students. That, in my opinion, is sheer racism. Fee and tuition changes (should they happen) should apply to all British students, or none at all. We cannot keep subsidising students disproportionately.
Here's the Guardian link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/nov/22/everything-need-know-tuition-fees
Anonymous Please commented
If fees/loan payments/taxes are to be levied on younger cohorts of graduates, they should also be levied on the older cohorts so that *all** graduates pay their fair share to support the system that educated them.
Thank you to everyone who has voted, and for all your comments.
@Johnny Chatterton: thank you, I'd appreciate your help very much.
I've read all the comments below and I apologise for not responding to them all individually, as I usually would. But briefly:
@ucef: agreed. More specifically, are we even getting £3000 worth of education at the moment?
@Thomas Sheed: agreed.
@Nigel Wootton: yes, a Graduate Tax was the coalition's original plan, if my sources are correct. Fantastic point re: the burden that these fees will place on parents.
I've written a fairly light-hearted review of the press' reaction to the protests. If anyone would like to read it, the address is:
To all supporters, please remember: we can change this, we have a voice; panic leads to violence and confusion, as we well know.
Brains before brawn.
Spread the word.
i strongly disagree with the raise of tuition fees to £9000 it is a disgrace towards education and the future of our children!
Thomas Sheed commented
These people are our future of this nation. In 10 years they will be the doctors, teachers and politicians that we need. We cannot treat them this way. In a time of massive shortages of key skills we need to make University MORE appealing, not increase the fees to the point where it renders even more people unable to enroll.
Nigel Wootton commented
It is an appalling burden on parents when they have to defer indefinitely their children's higher education because of the Chancellor's exaggeration of the Sovereign Debt and excessive public spending cuts. We may face another lost generation as in the time of Margaret Thatcher, due to mistaken political ideology. Manyyoung people will not be going to university because of lack of places and the frightening debt burden they will incur. We need a reasonable cap on tuition fees, without increasing the fee from its original amount. A Graduate Tax would on a sliding scale so that the rich pay more and the poorer less be much fairer to working and middle class families. The whole of society would be better off.
Jackie Watson commented
I would never have been able to get a degree if I'd had to pay for it. The fees would have taken income I needed for my children, who in turn would have missed out as I would then have been better qualified for a better job. Yes, this will widen the chasm between the haves and the have nots.
Everyone should try turning up at the students protest on 10th of November. Check the National Union of Students website. For more info on it go to http://www.demo2010.org/