LabourList readers will by now be aware of the recommendations announced by the Browne Review on Tuesday regarding the future of higher education in the UK – the complete abolition of any sort of cap on tuition fees and universities being given the green light to charge whatever they like – a nightmare scenario for future students and all true progressives.
However we cannot allow this nightmare to become a reality. If tuition fees are allowed to double or triple in the way that the Browne Review would allow, future generations of students will be burdened with massive amounts of debt and the poorest will be priced out of higher education. Our best universities will become little more than extensions of the discriminatory private school system; bastions of elitism where the wealthiest are guaranteed an excellent education at the cost of those on low and middle incomes being priced out all together. This should be unacceptable to all Labour Party members and those who believe in a fairer society where power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few. This is why we must ensure that all MPs hear the strength of our opposition and that the Browne Review’s proposals are defeated.
Labour Students have always opposed variable top-up fees, believing they are the wrong way to fund higher education. They will lead to the creation of a damaging market in higher education where money means everything and the hopes and aspirations of millions of young people are condemned to irrelevance. We opposed our own government’s decision to introduce top-up fees in 2006 and we will oppose any attempt by this Tory/ Lib Dem government to extend this system and cement the marketisation of our universities. We were right then and we are right now.
However, if we are to have any chance of winning this fight we’ll need the support of all progressives across the country, regardless of party allegiance, and readers of LabourList can play their part. We have launched our ‘Stand up for Students’ campaign to fight against higher tuition fees, as well as damaging spending cuts to further and higher education, with an open letter to Vince Cable. Since Tuesday afternoon over 2,000 people have already signed, including students from across the country and those who hope to go to university in the coming years.
We need as many people as possible to sign this letter to show how strong opposition to the Browne Review is. Please visit www.standupforstudents.org.uk and add your name to our letter. This fight is too important to lose, the future of our higher education system depends on it.
Danny Adilypour is the National Campaigns and Membership Officer for Labour Students.