AFTER Blair and Brown abolished students’ grants and introduced a regime of fee paying for university education – putting an end to free university education – it was only a matter of time before the university chancellors demanded a massive hike in fees.
Two thirds of university vice-chancellors have now told the BBC that they need to raise fees by huge sums, ranging from £4,000 to £20,000 a year.
Such increases would see student graduates still paying off their ‘debt’ till their 50s, and spell the end of university education for the working class and the middle class.
Only the children of the rich would be educated in such a system.
Yesterday, England’s Higher Education Minister David Lammy said there was an ‘important debate to be had’. He’s OK. He’s got his ministerial salary, his expenses, his golden goose pension and all his other perks.
The National Union of Students has warned of debts of £32,000 for students if fees rise to £7,000 per year.
The target of the university chancellors and the Brown cabinet is to lift the present £3,500 cap on fees this year.
It’s not so much a debate as a straightforward throat-cutting job!
Even the National Union of Students leadership which disgracefully led no fight against the abolition of grants and the introduction of fees, and has accepted fees and voted against any return to student grants right up till now, is shocked by unlimited fees.
In fact, the warnings of the Young Socialists Students Societies have proven to be 100 per cent correct. These were that the NUS leaders’ treachery would help assemble a regime that would bring in virtually unlimited fees, and education only for the children of the very rich.
NUS president Wes Streeting stated yesterday: ‘In the context of the current recession, it is extremely arrogant for university vice-chancellors to be fantasising about charging their students even higher fees and plunging them into over £32,000 of debt.’
Today students are lobbying the House of Commons, the very body that voted to abolish grants and bring in fees in the first years of the Blair government.
Sally Hunt, leader of the UCU lecturers’ union, has accused vice-chancellors of ‘ignoring the views of the general public as they try to secure more cash by any means possible’.
MP Paul Farrelly, a former fee rebel, is putting down a motion in the House of Commons and warning against any plans to hike fees.
Farrelly said the government would ignore ‘at its peril’ the risks of pushing through another fee increase. The truth is that this government must be put out.
On the lobby students will be very angry and will be contrasting the unlimited billions handed to the bankers with the savagery that is being directed towards students and workers.
In fact, the postal workers are being treated in exactly the same fashion. The Royal Mail is to be privatised and trade unionists are to be replaced by casuals.
Students must ally themselves with the trade unions to take a stand against this bankers’ government that is attacking every worker and every student.
All the universities must be occupied, and workers and students must organise a general strike to bring down the Brown government and go forward to a workers’ government that will carry out socialist policies.
We need a revolutionary government that will restore free state education and living grants for all students, and put an end to the menace of privatisation and joblessness by nationalising the banks and the major industries under workers’ control.
This is the task ahead for students and workers!