Labour policy is pauperising graduates


FIFTY EIGHT per cent of graduates find they are still relying on their parents for financial support three years after graduation, a survey commissioned by the Royal Bank of Scotland shows.

Many of these students are still living at home three years after leaving university, and admit that they could not survive without their parents.

The Bank’s ‘graduate satisfaction’ poll of 1,220 people who completed their studies in 2002 found 40 per cent of graduates had no regular savings.

The report said that dissatisfaction with finances was a common theme across locations and professions.

The advent of variable tuition fees means that the situation is certain to worsen in the years ahead, especially with the Chancellors of leading universities demanding the right to impose even higher levels of fees.

Latest estimates are that students just starting their university courses will graduate with debts approaching £35,000, with medical students having debts double that figure – meaning that they will face a lifetime of repayment.

Even at the moment, with students leaving university with debt levels of around £14,000, about 49 per cent of graduates just cannot pay into a pension fund, despite all of the propaganda that if they do not do so they will face a poverty retirement.

Both the National Union of Students and teachers’ organisations are convinced that the outcome of the abolition of grants and the introduction of variable tuition fees by the Blair government will be that working class students will choose not to go to university, because they cannot stand the thought of a lifetime of debt.

This will leave the universities as the preserve of the well-off and the rich of both Britain and abroad, and see Labour’s policy of allowing over 50 per cent of the youth a university education cast into the dustbin as cynical propaganda.

The architect of this debacle is the Blair government, most of whose ministers went through the university system, enjoying a grant and paying no fees whatsoever as they did so.

A number of them, such as the Home Secretary Charles Clarke, were leading officials of the NUS.

Now they parrot the same theme that the grants system is just too expensive for the British capitalist economy to carry.

The government can provide billions to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it can pay tens of billions over to the rail privateers to provide them with profits, but it can’t finance students’ grants or university education.

The truth is that its preoccupation is to turn Britain into a paradise for big business.

Britain is already the chosen place of residence of the Russian oligarchs, because they pay hardly any taxes here.

Britain already boasts the lightest inspection regimes for business, with the least regulation and the maximum of flexibility demanded of the workforce.

Everything and anything is being privatised, and being handed over to big business. Free state higher education would just be ‘a drain on the system’ and is therefore out of the question as far as Blair and Brown are concerned.

It is an absolute disgrace that the trade unions allowed the government to end university grants, since it is the sons and daughters of trade unionists who are now thinking twice about whether they and their families can afford them going to university.

The trade unions cannot stand and watch this debacle any longer. They must unite with the National Union of Students to call strike action for the abolition of fees and loans and for the restoration of university grants for all students.

The Blair government must be brought down and a workers’ government brought in that will restore grants and free university education.