No if’s, no but’s, no education cuts!

Never before in my lifetime have I seen a generation so mobilized into political activism so quickly. Last Thursday before the vote on higher tuition fees was passed by the coalition government students across the country descended upon London for the third time to show their displeasure of the betrayal of Liberal promises and the prospect of a debt of on average £50,000 of future generations of undergraduate students. The vast majority of the crowd was there to protest peacefully with the gathering marched to the beat of dub-step and the usual chants of “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts!”

During the protests SUSU was once again at the heart of parliament getting the student voice heard by politicians from all parties. What met us was a surprise to me, it seems that many of the politicians that we spoke to do not believe in the reforms that they are voting for – they see them as regressive, rushed or plain wrong. Many it would appear have voted them through out of fear of losing their seat at the next election. Liberal democrat MPs who broke the pledge need not worry about losing backing from their party, with the student population that they deceived able to vote in the next election their main electorate will more than likely turn their back on them.

This “progressive reform” will hit the middle income earners the hardest – it will remove the aspiration of many young adults from families like mine from going to University – I do not argue that there must be some contribution to the cost of having a university education – but the burden of debt will be too much for most to go to University. This is a Tory way of making sure that ONLY the very rich can go to University. They have added the help to the lowest earners because of some “pressures” from other interests.

In an entirely personal view I see this as a way of the Tory government trying to get rid of the ex-polytechnic universities that cater for what many Tory politicians are useless institutions teaching soft courses of no use to their version of society. I have many friends that go to Solent University that I will mercilessly bully until the day that I die – but at the end of the day they pay the same taxes as me and contribute to society just as much as me. Denying them a chance to study after Further Education would be criminal!

I have mentioned this word ASPIRATION – it is the most contagious thing in the world – I have worked for Aim HIgher (A project that is to be cut in this reform) in my time at university and there is nothing more satisfying that seeing a young adult injected with the aspiration to go to University – now it will simply be an unrealistic dream for many with the fear of being saddled with such debt – there will no longer be that moment of aspiration of many, something that I am personally very saddened by. Without this aspiration there will be a generation of young people that will be locked in situations they do not need to be in, crushed with unfulfilled hopes and dreams because of the actions of those who have already realized theirs and forgotten what it is to be working hard to reach them.

Many have argued that there is no way that the Liberals could have opposed this bill. It is a hung parliament – all it would take is the Liberals that signed the pledge to have some balls and stand up for what they believe in and we would not be having to have any of these arguments. There must be some compromise in a coalition government, though not on the main promises that a party has made in order to get into office.

It is not the fees that I am the most upset and agitated about (although you can probably tell that I am not happy with them either) It is the disgusting cuts that we are facing in Higher Education. With the resources that we currently have there still instances of poor teaching and feedback, bad student experience and shoddy levels of support. Thankfully most of this doesn’t happen at the University of Southampton though in many institutions it is a huge problem that will only get worse! With a tripling in fees the student expectation must raise three times over – this is NEVER going to happen in some institutions – leading to a ridiculous scenario were students will be paying three times what we did for exactly the same experience that we did – not a better one!

I am not a socialist – but I would rather see the very rich taxed for life, than remove the aspiration that I tried to instill in the young people that I worked with during my time in Aim Higher.

This policy is regressive, idiotic and not thought through properly and I will fight it until the day that it eventually is withdrawn! If you want to see cuts, cut the linings of the pockets in the House of Lords, cancel the expenses accounts of corrupted MPs (My taxes would be much better sending a young adult to University than painting my local MPs house) and stop paying bankers thousands of pounds to poorly invest mine!

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