Following on from the inauguration of an un-elected Prime Minister to the UK, one who calls her opposite number an “unscrupulous boss”, having already made it perfectly clear that she sees no reason to hold a general election until 2020, news is hidden in the echelons of the web that the younger generation, and by this I mean the teenagers and the like, are about to be stung by yet more decisions made that are as much “in their interest” as an arranged marriage to Ted Bundy would have been.
For many looking around they see the doors that will enable them to go out and enjoy the wider world slamming shut. Those looking to educate themselves in order to better themselves are quickly being priced out of the equation, as university fees look to increase above £10,000 a year within the next four years – what with Universities having taken it upon themselves now to just yank the prices up anyway. Liberal politicians are labeling these Universities as being “after as much cash as they can get”, but we all know that it just means that a deal has been struck and nobody was supposed to notice just yet, so that by the time the law changes, the fees will already be in place.
The people who will be hardest hit by these increases aren’t even old enough to vote yet and won’t be able to do a damn thing about it by the time it happens anyway. Luckily, though, they’re all checking out their Pokemon right now instead of writing letters to their local MPs and trying to force the issue in their favour, but who can blame them? I don’t know many 13-14 year olds who can even begin to think that far ahead, and in some ways it feels like it is our responsibility to try to stand up for them in some way.
By listing the fees now on their websites, it almost makes it easy to say “ah, well seeing as they’ve already put those numbers up on their website, it’d be harder not to change it” and there we go. It’s why businesses have their slogans printed up all over the walls of the offices that their staff work in, once you accept something on some level, it’s easier to accept it on other levels.
To make matters worse, the start of August marked the changes to the way that young people from poorer backgrounds are to fund their studies. Previously, grants were awarded to those whose family income fell below a certain level, and although they still had to shoulder the burden of student loans to pay for the courses that they were taking, the money that would pay for basics such as rent, nutrition, study materials and whatever else people have to pay for was awarded to them. This was based on a means testing system, and while some argued it was unfair, these were largely those from affluent families who were more than capable of covering the costs. George Osborne, the champion of the working class, announced last year that these grants would no longer be paid out, and would be replaced with further loans.
The upshot is this: People from a working class background now need to pay a further £3,387 a year back in order to get the same degree as someone whose average annual family income is higher. People who have less money now have to pay more money to get the same thing as those who have more money than them. Not only have we made it harder for those people to go elsewhere to find work, we’ve also gone and made it harder for them to be educated, because for some the prospect of such mammoth debt is simply one they don’t want to contend with going into adulthood, knowing that life is expensive enough without it. Many of these come from families and communities where the all to real impact of crippling debt is on display around every corner. Financial struggles are a leading factor in leading to drug and alcohol abuse, and once you’re caught into that whirlpool, it really does take a special effort to get out of it. So for many, they will see the price of their degree and it’s potential fall in value after it’s acquisition, and seek out other routes of employment.
Inflation is due to impact on student loans from September, and the money that people will have to pay back will increase again, adding up to £280.00 per year in interest on the loans. The cost of educating yourself has skyrocketed in the last ten years, and it seems that these values will continue to rise. By contrast, Germany recently made studying free again. Students were paying significantly lower fees than those in the UK anyway, but now they don’t charge them at all. A degree in Germany is a pretty valuable asset to have, and a degree from Germany is nothing to be sniffed at, so how we can try to justify forcing kids to pay more money than their parents would have spent in 30 years on rent for 4 years of education, whilst knowing that through the back window of the car they’re speeding away from millions of people just like who are getting a good education without the crippling debt that follows.
These young people will then be propelled into a work force where being British is a disadvantage. Not only will it be tougher to compete for good jobs in other countries purely for the sake of the visa that will be required, but also you’ll be carrying a boat load of debt on your shoulders whilst everyone else quite frankly won’t have the same disadvantage. The fact that there will be a disparity between the working class students and others will just throw further spanners in the works. Many nations won’t be inclined to take people in who have incurred such a large debt, as that doesn’t stand to bode well for the country taking people in. Without standards on European regulation to have to be adhered to, how unthinkable is it that Britain, who left Europe in order to take more control over her own decisions, might not at some point down the line, bring our educations system far enough out of line with others? That suddenly this £13,000+ a year degree you’ve bought as well as worked hard for, ends up only being useful to you if you’re in the UK.
Plenty within England will simply not want to take that risk and will avoid higher education altogether, which will only serve to isolate them not from Europe necessarily, but from the rest of the world. Having an uneducated working class, who feel that education is simply more ‘Waitrose Finest’ than ‘Tesco Savers’, will only build up resentment. Not educating our young is the best way to guarantee that their social mobility is restricted to the parole office and the local off-license. It will breed resentment, hatred and cause a wider social divide. Nothing screams “DEMOCRACY” like a government with an unelected leader pricing the young and poor out of education, whilst corporate media just fills their heads with hatred, racism and mindlessness. Two generations of this was enough to start a movement in Germany almost 100 years ago, and now it seems that whilst the Germans have learned from the past, we seem doomed to repeat it.
Words by Richard Taylor
Picture by Jasons Haggard Faces