Education cuts and £9,000 fees destroying the future for youth

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AFTER record A-Level results, hundreds of thousands of students will be refused university places this year because of the coalition’s savage cuts policy.

After being forced to compete for UCAS qualification points they will be condemned to join the growing army of the unemployed, which now includes almost one million young people, and an existence on the Jobseekers Allowance. They will not be able to reapply next year since there is no way that they can face an annual tuition fee of up to £9,000.

Their dream of a future will be smashed by the Tory-led coalition’s policy of turning higher education into a very expensive commodity.

Commenting on yesterday’s A-Level results, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: ‘With a tighter control on places, a brutal 80% cut to the teaching budget for this coming academic year and a sharp rise in tuition fees from September 2012, the government is throttling diversity in higher education.

‘David Willetts’ latest brainwave, to award higher UCAS points for what he calls “classic” A-Levels, is an insult to the hard work of many thousands of students studying the full range of subjects.’

She added: ‘The government places itself in serious danger of alienating an entire generation of young people. The continual squeeze on university places comes at a time when yet more of our 16-24 year olds – another 38,000 in fact – are not studying or working. That is now more than one in five of our young people and will have devastating consequences for this generation.’

She forecast: ‘A test of the government’s reforms will be in two years’ time, when we see the impact of their slashing the Education Maintenance Allowance. Our serious concern is that cutting financial support will deter talented young people from staying on past the age of 16 to do their A-levels and deprive them of the achievements we should be celebrating today.’

The completely reformist NUS leadership commented: ‘With youth unemployment once again pushing one million, now is not the time for the limits placed on university places, nor for the disastrous combination of education funding cuts and tuition fee rises which have created a perfect storm for a generation of young people.’

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘We can expect to see a repeat of last year’s frustrating situation when more than 200,000 students were left without a university place. Young people getting their A-Level results tomorrow have been encouraged to aim higher and apply to university. They have done just that and are now having the door slammed shut in their faces.

‘The real issue for those who miss out is what to do next? Almost one in five young people aged 19 to 24 in England are not studying or working and those who miss out this year are unlikely to have a viable plan B.’

However, the role of trade unions and the NUS cannot be reduced to just indignation over the plight of students and the end of free state education.

The TUC Congress is next month. The teaching unions must put down a motion for a general strike to restore free state education, abolish tuition fees and bring down the coalition government.

News Line urges students to join the YS and form Young Socialist Student Societies in every university to build a new NUS leadership.

We urge workers to join the WRP and fight for a new leadership in the trade unions and a general strike.

Workers will not stand by and watch the future of millions of youth being destroyed. Join the YS lobby of the TUC Congress on Monday, September 12 from 8am, to demand that the TUC call a general strike!