FOR YEARS the government, echoed by the National Union of Students (NUS) leadership, has told students they would get a fantastic job at the end of their course to pay off their student debt. But as the economy went on the slide last year, so did many final-year students' employment prospects.
Iain Dalton, Bangor Socialist Students
Now students increasingly question the current system of funding university education. And it's not just job opportunities in jeopardy. As The Socialist previously reported, several universities face big cuts in funding which threaten them with potential bankruptcy.
The government's director-general for research and science, Professor Adrian Smith, blames these crises on the government taking too long over the question of raising the cap on tuition fees. He says neither Labour nor Tories want to touch the question, afraid of the backlash that they might face.
The government and university vice-chancellors are looking at three options, increasing fees, raising interest on student loans or making cuts to courses. None of these options are acceptable to students.
Despite the recession, all the main parties still support the capitalist free market and this is reflected in their plans for education. Ideally, they want a US-style system where student debt can run over £100,000. The next step for them is to further lift the cap on tuition fees, probably to around £7,000 a year, although many university vice-chancellors are pushing for more.
As the bailouts to the banks show, the government can find plenty of money when it wants to. But it wants to give it all to its fat-cat friends in the banks and other industries while we bear the costs of the crisis they caused.
Figures released by the PCS civil service union revealed £21.5 billion in uncollected corporation tax as well as £25 billion lost through tax evasion. Why not spend this money on education and other public services instead of letting it slide into the back pockets of the rich?
Socialist Students has been at the forefront of campaigning against fees and cuts, organising protests around the country. In Bangor, Socialist Students has won the support of Bangor Students' Union for the Campaign to Defeat Fees.
But where has the national voice of the student movement, the NUS, been in all this?
The pro-New Labour NUS leadership are celebrating their victory in getting a 'governance review' passed that will transform the NUS into little more than a charity for students rather than a national union. Students though have been increasingly by-passing them.
Such is the case with the demonstration against fees on Wednesday 25 February in London. This is organised by various left/campaigning groups including Socialist Students and the Campaign to Defeat Fees.
We encourage all students to join our contingent on the demonstration and discuss with us how to build the fight-back for free education across the country.
Protest Against Fees
Wednesday 25 February. Assemble 12 noon
SOAS, Malet Street, London WC1
Fight for your future!