The trebling of tuition fees to £9,000, and the ever increasing fees charged to international students, has resulted in universities being run like private businesses, for profit. While the quality of education is rapidly declining due to cuts to courses and staff pay, funding for marketing and new buildings is surging, and the size university managements continue to expand, as do their salaries. Students, in particular international students, are being treated like cash-cows, being charged extortionate amounts for degrees that are of increasingly declining quality and value, they are being driven in and churned out like products on a factory line as quickly and cheaply as possible, in order to maximise profit. Universities are being turned into profit-seeking businesses rather than educational institutions.
Meanwhile, the government is planning to scrap maintenance grants for students and replace them with more loans and more debt. These changes to support for students will mean that those from the poorest backgrounds will graduate with the most debt, and all this while rents, heating bills, transport, food and other living costs continue to rise.
We can reverse this process and reinstate higher education as a public good which is run in the interest, and for the benefit of, students, staff and the wider community. This would remove financial barriers to education and ensure it is open to all, funded by taxes on the rich and big businesses. Moreover, the government’s own figures show that for every £1 invested in higher education the economy expands by £2.60 so free education would pay for itself! We only have to look to Germany, Denmark, Brazil and Scotland to see that another education system is possible!
Students’ Unions across the country, supported by the National Union of Students, are fighting for free education and for grants not loans!