It is less than a month until the national student demonstration in London which will see thousands of students from all over the country convene in London to protest ‘against a government that is consistently taking students’ futures from them’. The rise in tuition fees is what ignited the student movement back in 2010 and since then has been a focal point for the student population’s anger towards a Conservative government deemed to be robbing the nation’s young people of opportunity to succeed.
The bitterness towards the rise in fees seems to be universal amongst students, and has continued to spread to other parts of the globe. In this article I ask; are high tuition fees such a bad thing?
From 1998, when Tony Blair’s New Labour government introduced a fee for higher education, until 2010, when the £3,290 a year cap was removed under David Cameron’s Conservative government, the number of young people going to university had been continually rising.
The relatively cheap price for higher education meant that more people were going to university because they were able to, rather than considering whether it was right for them, and looked forward to the bacchanalian joys of Fresher’s Week, the meaningless first year, and the unspeakable events of ‘Tour’.
Low tuition fees not only meant that more people were going to university, but more people were studying at less prestigious universities, and therefore gaining a less valuable degree. With the vast number of graduates in Britain it is hard to find a job with a 2:1 from a Russell Group university, meaning those studying at other institutions are left facing slim chance of employment and significantly out of pocket.
The majority of student activists are keen to point out that it is those young people from a poorer background who are being disadvantaged, however high tuition fees do not prevent people from going to university. By raising tuition fees the Government have placed more value on the education of young people and an intelligent, focused, driven person will be keen to attend university regardless of their economic background, and make their investment worthwhile.
I believe in the past when the fees were low it was too easy for people to go university. There was no way of deterring young people who saw the £3,000 a year fees as an acceptable price to have a good time for three years, whilst doing a bit of work on the side at a distinctly average university.
I would argue the rise in tuition fees will help change the attitude of young people to their time at university and the value of their education. It will also lead them to question whether three years at university and £27,000 worth of debt is something they want to commit to, or whether they would rather make a living from neglected manual trades, which are receiving a boost from Ed Miliband’s proposed Technical Baccalaureate.
Therefore on the 21st of November I ask those travelling to London, what are they protesting for?
Do they want a society where everyone has been to university systematically devaluing their degree which they may, or may not, have worked so hard for? Is it such a bad system that those who want to study hard and spend three years pursuing a degree go university, while those who don’t want to commit to the high fees and substantial debt do not go, and train in trades that are just as valuable to our society.
We live in a capitalist society where we are the commodity and we should raise our value through our own hard work, rather than suggesting that university education should be given to everyone. If young people want higher education it is available, however there are other routes. University education is a valuable commitment and should be hard work, not a right.