Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1106/31521
From The Socialist newspaper, 21 October 2020
Disabled students let down by "rotten education system"
Students demonstrating in London, photo Isai Priya (Click to enlarge)
Mark Sayers, Keighley
The UK's capitalist university system is rotten to the core. Universities' prime aim is not to provide education for students - but to generate income for their vice chancellors and management who make millions by ripping off students. For the past three years, I've endured an experience which many disabled students in this country have faced. Many like me have a bitter taste in their mouth regarding how we have been treated.
I chose to study an online history degree at the University of Birmingham because I worked full-time shifts - like many working-class people, I was unable to attend university in person. I thought it was the right choice for me. How wrong I was. Because I have dyslexia, I needed extra help with writing essays.
Universities in the UK now use private contractors to provide disability support. They will inform you this is to provide appropriate help for disabled students - this is a blatant lie. The University of Birmingham, like the majority of UK universities, use companies such as Clear Links, which seek to make profit from supporting students. This support is paid for by Student Finance England, who pay them millions of pounds of public money. And in my experience they were useless.
I found myself completing course work - without support - which I knew was not up to standard. As a result of going through two months of hell writing the first essay, I informed the history department that I was thinking of withdrawing from the degree. But before I decided to withdraw, I was charged for the second module, before it had even started. By now I had come to realise they had no interest in their students, apart from exploiting them for financial gain - charging extortionate fees for their online degree.
I went through a complaints process with the university, and then with an independent adjudicator. Ultimately, my case was rejected and I found myself unable to get my fees refunded. Because I had withdrawn from the University of Birmingham without being granted 'compassionate personal reasons', I am now unable to get financial support from Student finance England for future studies.
My experience is a clear reflection of how disabled students are treated in our rotten education system. It is not unique or unusual - there are literately tens of thousands of disabled students who have had a similar experience as me - if not far worse. And the underlying reason is that the education system serves capitalism rather than providing genuine education for students (search "What would socialist universities look like?" at socialistparty.org.uk).
Birmingham's vice-chancellor earns £440,000 a year. Meanwhile, the university will not return a measly £3,500 to a student who was treated with contempt. This just shows where universities' priorities are - and it's certainly not providing education for their students.
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In The Socialist 21 October 2020:
Health before profit - Work or full pay
Wales 'firebreak' lockdown fails to protect workers
Liverpool lockdown: suspicion and anger
Newcastle lockdown: stress and breakdowns
Leicester lockdown: disillusionment and anger
Why the Socialist Party is backing Hugo Pierre for Unison general secretary
Nigeria protests: 'This movement needs to fight the whole rotten capitalist system'
Horrific murder in Paris: fight intolerance and racism!
South Africa: Mass day of action for permanent jobs and a living wage
Tories reduce winter homeless funding: reverse the cuts,use the empty homes!
World capitalism's terrified strategists abandon austerity - for now
Test and Trace U-turn on stopping local case reporting
Oxbridge gets private Covid tests: pool resources to test us all!
Millennials disillusioned with 'democracy'
Under the microscope
RMT: Programme to fight redundancies and cuts
Action on Covid transmission in schools now
FCC dismiss Unison activist Tony Smith
Optare workers strike over pay broken 'promise'
Solidarity with Deliveroo Couriers in York
Students: Give us our money back
Fight for your future at the online rally
Southampton: Coxford community condemns racist attack
Socialism 2020: Will you help our finance appeal?
Selling the Socialist: increase in NHS anger
Truth about Zane: Cover-up Tories crack
Kent: Chaotic privatised asylum process
Teignmouth hospital closure threat ... again!
Books that inspired me: For Whom the Bell Tolls
Beware the billionaires bearing gifts
Disabled students let down by "rotten education system"
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