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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 May 2002

Step Up The Struggle For Free Education

MARGARET HODGE, Minister for universities, says the government may do a U-turn and let universities charge their own top-up fees.

She admits top-up fees are among options being considered by the review into student finance initiated by the government last year.

Jono Owen

If the government actually supports proposals for top-up fees after the review is completed, they will enrage students. Already the introduction of tuition fees and abolition of the grant has forced thousands of students into massive debt and poverty.

At a time when students are reportedly more pessimistic about their job prospects than at any time in the last decade, top-up fees would only be another deterrent to working-class people thinking of going to university.

If introduced, top-up fees will create an even more unequal higher education system. The old, richer universities, will charge as much as 10,000 a year, ensuring that working-class students are kept out, while privileged students get in.

Working-class and most middle-class students will be relegated to the poorer, less well-funded universities, if they can afford to go at all.

When David Blunkett was Secretary of State for education, he said that he wouldn't let universities charge top-up fees. The Socialist Party warned then, that New Labour couldn't be trusted to honour that pledge.

Clearly students cannot trust any of the main, pro-business political parties to even scrap fees or bring back a decent, liveable grant.

Unless we build mass demonstrations, protests and a mass campaign of non-payment, the government will go further in pursuing its agenda of making students pay more and more of the costs of education.

It is vital that we ensure that students don't have to pay any fees in the future by stepping up the struggle for free education now.


Crisis In The Universities

THE BLAIR government wants universities to meet their targets of half of all under-30-year olds experiencing higher education by 2010. But Britain's universities are estimated to be 1 billion a year short of the money they need just to keep building and equipment in working order, let alone expanding to meet government demands.

The main people suffering from this are the staff and the students, particularly those from working-class and less affluent middle-class backgrounds. Any expansion needs far more staff and money for free education and decent grants for all.

Instead the universities are axing at least 1,400 jobs and next month's figures are expected to show that the proportion of 16- to 18-year-olds in full-time education is falling.

Larger classes, less tutorial time and growing pressure on students to do part-time jobs to meet the costs are taking their toll, as the article (right) shows.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

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.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 24 May 2002:

Take Back Rail

Bush And Blair's War Plans Increase World Tensions

The Truth About PFI

Step Up The Struggle For Free Education

Rail privatisation exposed

Irish election: Socialist Party Scores Spectacular Successes

New War Threat Looms Over Kashmir Conflict

Firefighters Prepare For Pay Battle


 

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Related links:

Education:

triangleJohnson's reckless 'back to school' plans threaten everyone's safety

trianglePay full fees for virtual courses? - No way!

triangleNo 'back to school' until outbreak is under control and trade union agreed safety arrangements

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Education and exams

Universities:

trianglePlymouth students discuss rent strike

triangleUni strike takes fight to bosses

triangleYork freshers success

Students:

triangleCoronavirus: Students' charter

triangleCoronavirus - a students' charter

Fees:

triangleNorth London Socialist Party: How can Corbyn's policies be implemented?

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