If we don't keep universities free from market failure, is there anywhere else in society that is safe?

A student activist responds to this week's #Unishambles reports in The Independent by argunig that free access to higher education benefits all of society

Share
Related Topics

If there were ever a time to demand free university education, it would be now.

A report in The Independent this week confirms that the Coalition government’s new £9,000 tuition fee regime “is in danger of costing taxpayers more than the old system.” In other words, a policy allegedly designed to improve public finance is having precisely the opposite effect.

This is a consistent thread in UK social policy since Thatcher. Public services are put on the market to benefit the few, while the broader public are left with the bill.

Whim

This same logic applies to the latest economic crisis, when trillions in public funds were granted to the banking sector. The public have been left with the bill, and now basic social services like healthcare, leisure centres, libraries and heating for seniors are being closed and cut.

The state serves at the whim of the banks, rather than the people it supposedly represents.

The latest education report, issued by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi), states that the government has “seriously understated” repercussions from its tuition hike. There may now be a £1bn-a-year “black hole” in university funding, which will have to be offset by drastic cuts to student enrolment or higher graduate loan repayments, according to the article.

For those familiar with UK education policy, this was entirely predictable and avoidable. Researcher Andrew McGettigan made this clear in a report published this May titled “False Accounting.” This is failure by design, with the ultimate purpose of introducing market-based higher education to the UK.

Remember that tuition fees were only introduced at the university level in 1998. In a short time, the UK has become one of the most expensive countries for higher education in the “developed” world. There has already been a significant drop in university enrolment as a result, with immeasurable social and cultural losses to local communities. These social losses are mere “externalities” when subject to the dictates of the market.

Popular

It should be clear to all that higher education in the UK is fast becoming an elite and privatized privilege rather than a generalized right, with lasting consequences for society. One need only look to the United States to see the rapid social decline brought on by free-market privatization. There is no question that the UK Coalition government is heading in this perilous direction.

It is in this context that strong popular demands can be made. Free access to higher education benefits all of society, much like universal healthcare. Claims that there are not sufficient funds are unsound as the government considers replacing Trident nuclear submarines to the tune of £15bn to £34bn.

But the public know this and have turned against the government, as consecutive opinion polls indicate. At this point, the only thing keeping the Coalition government in power is insufficient strike action and popular street politics. The upcoming National Union of Students demonstration on November 21 is important, but it is just the beginning.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Supply Teachers Would you ...

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The daily catch-up: art of the unapology, a bet on UKIP and printer ink molecules

John Rentoul
 

The law is too hard on sexting teenagers

Memphis Barker
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game