The Government have been letting students down for over a decade now. Back in 2010 the newly elected Tory-led coalition, demonstrating a predictable callousness, tripled tuition fees to £9,000 per year and scrapped Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).
The scrapping of EMA prevented many from getting A-levels, without which you cannot even apply for university. These cuts were followed six years later by the scrapping of maintenance grants to lower income university students. Many working class students relied on these grants to access higher education.
All of these actions are thinly veiled attempts to exclude the working class from universities.
Now – during a pandemic! – the government are screwing over students again. Across the country there was a drastic drop in the grades awarded to GCSE and A-Level students and those from lower income backgrounds were particularly affected.
Although the Government was forced to make a U-Turn on this, due to an outpouring of anger from students, it is clear that the Government doesn’t care about the prospects of working class youth and would rather see them join the workforce young, so that they can be more easily exploited.
Government attacks on working people don’t end when they leave education. On the contrary they only get more vicious! The constant barrage of government attacks which students have endured over the last decade only intensifies when they join the workforce. The Tory government has repeatedly demonstrated that it is not on the side of the working class youth.
Students should therefore stand in solidarity with workers and the unemployed in resisting the cuts and other attacks that will face them in the aftermath of this pandemic, starting with university lecturers and support staff, many of whom face job losses, cuts to hours and pay and zero-hour contracts.
Students and staff are being asked to pay for the crisis in higher and further education, leaving some universities massively oversubscribed and most of the rest, including further education, almost bankrupt. They should be nationalised without compensation, while safeguarding academic freedom, so that their services can be massively expanded and tuition fees abolished: free education is a right!