Monday, April 18, 2011
by Lamine Konate
The UK government has voted to increase student tuition fees for UK universities and higher education.
On 9th December 2010, the coalition voted 323 in favour and 302 to raise fees to a maximum of £9,000 per annum from £3,000.
Sustainable higher education?
“Rationing higher education and making it more expensive, at a time when the rest of the world is investing in universities, will seriously risk our standing on the world stage,” argues The Daily Telegraph’s education editor Graeme Paton.
Lord Browne’s report, which the government has cited as support for its policy, is entitled ‘Securing a Sustainable Future for Higher Education’. Reforming university funding may help with the coalition’s deficit reduction plan, but in the long term cuts will adversely affect the quality of our universities, cut opportunities for students and weaken the economy; the sustainability of British higher education looks incredibly shaky.
Who will be affected
It’s been reported that the fees will not rise immediately for all students. But there may be increases in the future for all students to meet university budgetary requirements. It will be down to the universities to safeguard the interests of students.
The changes to the British education system are vast and the cost of getting a degree will evidently introduce class divides, making it harder for less wealthy children to access higher education easily.
Jonathan Black, director of careers service at Oxford, argues that “the introduction of higher fees will create deeper and longer-lasting splits in the working population that reinforce, rather than break down, social divisions. The privileged will continue to gain a broad education, which will give them choice and control over their careers; the less privileged will focus on expedient, short-term options that will give them narrow training, equipping them for fewer roles, offering ever declining choice in a fast-changing world.”
Therefore, education in the UK will be at a price and no longer just a simple right. This contradicts article 26 of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to education… and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.”
The impact on asylum-seeking students
One of the most important issues regarding the fee increase is the situation of asylum-seeking students who want to go to university. The fee change is a big blow for them as fewer will be able to attend higher education.
Currently, some institutions charge asylum-seeking students home fees, which is already difficult for them to pay unless they are sponsored. To make matters worse, they are not eligible for student loans or maintenance. They cannot apply for grants and most bursaries and are not allowed to work.
STAR gets involved
STAR has launched a new Pledge for universities to commit to do all they can to ensure higher education is equally accessible to refugees and asylum seekers in the light of changes to university funding.
A personal perspective
This is an important issue for students in the UK in general, particularly for asylum-seeking students and personally for people like me who went through many hard moments to get to university. It would have been impossible for me to have had the opportunity to study at university if the fee increase was introduced years ago.
Posted by Communications on 18/04/2011 at 02:14 PM