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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 August 2009

Higher education

Don't make young people pay for funding crisis

From Thursday 20 August, when the A-level results are released, hundreds of thousands of young people will be hoping to get onto the course and into the university they have chosen. However, according to The Times, this year up to 50,000 could be disappointed, but not because they didn't get the grades!

Matt Dobson, Socialist Students national organiser

The government has cut the funding available for university places because of a 200 million shortfall in the education budget. This was due to an underestimation of the number of university applications and of how many poorer students would claim the full maintenance grant. Rather than increase funding to meet the educational needs of young people New Labour is punishing them for its own incompetence!

Under pressure from big business Gordon Brown has been forced to allow 10,000 extra places for 'courses that lead to jobs' in science, technology and maths. But the government is not providing funding to meet the increased teaching costs. This poses a threat to education standards and could result in cuts to other courses.

This comes in a year when applications to university from all sections of society have soared. Demographic changes mean that the number of 18 year-olds leaving school and college is the highest for ten years. Many are looking towards higher education as an alternative to the dole queue but could now end up at the Jobcentres.

If they have not received an offer for their chosen course, young people then face 'clearing', a period of competition for places that have not been taken up at other universities. This is always chaotic, but this year is set to be even worse with tens of thousands less places available.

The pressure on would-be students and their families is made worse by the letters dropping on doormats from Student Finance telling them that there is an eight-week delay in processing loan and grant applications for the new term. Students have been told they will get a full loan payment until this is sorted out. When students find their finances running low at Christmas, some who have 'over-claimed' may then get letters from student finance trying to claw money back.

While the government pumps another 50 billion into the economy, Socialist Students and YFJ demand that all the university places that are needed are fully funded and that no student is excluded on financial grounds.

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In The Socialist 12 August 2009:

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Marxist analysis: history

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Grim prospects for young people


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BNP loses council by-election

Racists left speechless

Anti-fascist demo in Birmingham


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South Africa: A cold winter, but mass action shakes Zuma

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