Student finance

Class barriers

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As half a million students begin university this month Rob Ferguson looks at the consequences of cuts and fees on applications

This September around half a million students will begin a university education - 36 percent of all school leavers. In 1962 a mere 20,000 school leavers entered university. The landscape of higher education has been transformed over past decades. In east London, where I now work, thousands of young people, male and female, many from Asian backgrounds, enter university who could not have dreamt of doing so 20 years ago. Vocational and Access qualifications now provide an important route to university for many working class students and mature workers.

Degrees of marketisation

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The new Higher Education White Paper marks a step change in the neoliberal transformation of universities. Jim Wolfreys looks at the ideology behind the government's plans, what it will mean for students, staff and the nature of teaching, and how we can resist

The government's Higher Education White Paper will disrupt and potentially break up the existing system of higher education in England, deterring poorer students from university, subordinating teaching and research to the logic of privatisation and competition, and paving the way for the closure both of courses and of entire institutions.

It makes claims about putting "students at the heart of the system" and "excellent teaching back at the heart of every student's university experience" that are flatly and comprehensively contradicted by the entire content of the document.

The best is yet to come

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Holding the Islington NUT banner at the corner of Parliament Square last month, just before Eton-educated David Cameron and his new fag, Nick Clegg, were about to lead their MPs to vote for a trebling of university fees, my mind flashed back to October 1968.

Then, as a 17 year old apprentice telephone engineer, I had joined the second big anti Vietnam War demonstration that year to the US embassy in Grosvenor Square.

In some ways the protests were similar: the violence of the cops, the thousands of students who fought back and the rapidity with which things can change. But there is an important difference.

A Generation in Revolt

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For years we have been told that today's students are apathetic. Dave Sewell argues that the "Day X" demonstrations marked the birth of a new student movement.


Image: Loki English

"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven."

So the poet Wordsworth hailed the French Revolution of 1789. In 1968 Paris activist Daniel Cohn-Bendit said of 10 May, the night of the barricades:

Education at the Crossroads

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The coalition government has launched a colossal attack on all aspects of our education system. Terry Wrigley argues that this is an acceleration of previous governments' policies to drive the market into the heart of learning and will deepen a class hierarchy of institutions and students.


A police officer amid the aftermath of students' "Day X3" protest in December. Photo: Geoff Dexter

Student Protest Ignites the Fight

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It will take some time for us to judge the full meaning of the 10 November demonstration accurately. But it is worth reflecting on how it has changed the dynamics of both the student movement and the labour movement at large.


Photo: Geoff Dexter

The demonstration saw over 50,000 people march in an inspiring show of strength through London. This was not only the largest demonstration about education since 1987 but it also ended with an explosion of anger when thousands broke away from the central march to bring their anger to the doorstep of the Tory party headquarters at 30 Millbank.

Education demolition

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Lord Browne's recommendation of unlimited tuition fees and the introduction of the free market into universities constitutes a devastating assault on access to education by working class people. Mark Bergfeld considers the effects of the proposals and how they can be stopped.

Lord Browne's proposals of lifting the cap from tuition fees and installing a free market in university funding is the largest attack on higher education (HE) we have seen to date. The spending review has twisted the knife further, by cutting central funding to all but the "priority" subjects. The signals are alarming.

Top-up fees - Education as luxury

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A recent BBC poll of 53 university vice-chancellors reveals that two thirds want the top-up fee cap to be increased from the current £3,000.

More than half of those polled would like the fees to rise to at least £5,000, with some even calling for either a £20,000 cap or none at all. The poll coincides with the government's announcement that fee levels are to be reviewed this summer.

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