As Bristol SU we have a policy which mandates us to lobby for free education. ‘Free education’ would mean that higher education would be publically funded by progressive taxation rather than tuition fees paid by students. Such a scheme would recognise the public benefit that higher education provides.
But this demonstration goes beyond free education. The current government have launched a sustained attack on higher education and have shown a complete disdain for students.
The government recently announced the abolishment of maintenance grants which support the poorest students’ access higher education. Estimates suggest that as a result of the Government's changes average student debt for a three-year course will rise from around £40,500 to £53,000 for the poorest 40% of students. Debt will now be highest amongst those from lowest-income families.
Further government plans include:
This feeds into a political shift which increasingly sees Universities as free-market companies and students as consumers.
What ever happened to education as a public good? What happened to education as a right?
We are lobbying our local MPs on a number of these issues but everything can't be won around the negotiating table and through letters.
Let's mobilise on the streets of London for a demonstration to put education as a public good back on the agenda.