Over the past few weeks, many of you will have heard the names Lord Browne and Aaron Porter flying around campus as the review of Higher Education and Student Funding is put forward. Two weeks before Lord Browne’s report was to be released publicly, sections were leaked to the press revealing government plans to more than double the cost of university.
Roars of protest from student unions nationwide have understandably followed. This month major steps are being taken by the student population across Great Britain to influence our government against accepting a proposal, which is set to financially cripple future generations of university graduates.
If the proposed review is put in place the average graduate, if they started their course in 2012, will enter the working world with up to £40,000 of debt, as opposed to the current £25,000 debt faced after graduation. Part of Lord Browne’s government proposal is to lift the cap on tuition fees, which if implemented will mean that the cost of university per year will soar to £7000 – £10,000, with elite universities charging the maximum.
…higher education is a vital key to economic recovery…
Universities will charge more following proposed cuts of almost two-thirds to teaching grants. Presently university students pay up to £3,290 a year for their studies, but many have to also apply for a maintenance loan to cover accommodation, food, books etc. Post graduates begin to pay back their loans at a 1.5% interest rate when their annual salary hits £15,000. Lord Browne’s report proposes sliding scale interest rates that would increase with earnings, so the better paid you are, the higher the cost you will pay for having borrowed the money in the first place.
The review is sentencing post graduates to be fettered by debt for the majority of their working lives. Sound fair? I think not. For a university student, bleak graduate employment opportunities are forewarned almost daily in this economic climate, but higher education is a vital key to economic recovery. Lord Browne is proposing to make an elitist market out of higher education when he himself could not have accomplished his career under the circumstances that he endeavours to implement.
…barred from higher education by prohibitive cost…
Aaron Porter, the president of the National Union of Students, has leapt to respond to what he calls a “complete betrayal” of Nick Clegg’s pre-election promise to “resist, vote against, campaign against, a rise in tuition fees”. In defiance of the proposed rise in tuition fees, the NUS is set to mobilise thousands of university staff and students in a national protest through London to Westminster.
The government describes the proposal as “progressive”, but appear to disregard the alienation from higher education of bright but poorer students. Universities seeking the brightest and the best for their undergraduate programs will be approached only by students from higher earning backgrounds as others find themselves barred from higher education by prohibitive cost. Academic ability will be replaced by a market for universities.
…‘Fund Our Future: Stop Education Cuts’…
Jointly organised by NUS and UCU, ‘Fund Our Future: Stop Education Cuts’ is taking place in central London on Wednesday 10th November. The open march is to protest against the proposed rise in tuition fees, increased interest rates on student loans and teaching funding cuts.
It is initially taking place at Horse Guards Avenue starting at 11:30am, and is a short walk from Charing Cross, Embankment and Westminster underground stations. Universities nationwide have been protesting, but this is set to be the largest, with thousands of university students and staff joining together at Westminster.