Denmark: Fight the attacks on student grantsOctober 13, 2016
[Today thousands of youth and students will take to the streets to protest against the government’s attacks on education and the student grant (SU). The article below is from REVOLT, the English magazine of Revolutionære Socialister – IMT in Denmark]
The Danish government has recently presented its 2025 plan, and as expected, this plan contained a massive attack on student grants (SU). The government’s concrete proposal is to lower the SU for students living away from their parents from 5100 to 4300 kr, after tax. Furthermore, the intention is to increase the amount for the SU-loan from 3000 kr today to 4300 kr, applicable to those who start their education in 2019. Additionally, they will remove the SU on the 6th year of study, which means that SU runs out for those who are even just slightly delayed or choose to change their study.
The government has made it their objective that fewer people receive an education and they will surely succeed if these austerity policies are implemented. If this attack on the SU is carried out it will undoubtedly have a tremendous social impact and serve to further increase inequality in education. This consequence is very much in line with the rest of the 2025 plan. Students, the unemployed and those at the very bottom of the income ladder will have to pay for the tax breaks for the businesses, stock capital and top tax reductions as well as increased expenses for the police and military, which will also be financed by increasing the retirement age.
3.3 billion kr will be saved as a result of cutting down on the SU which according to the government some of it is to be spent on better quality education. It might sound reasonable if it weren’t for the fact that the government announced savings of over 8 billion kr on education just last year. They take with one hand and give crumbs back with the other, paid for by the students themselves.
The government’s plan is a dramatic step away from free education as an option for all. Denmark is heading in the same direction as the UK, where only recently education was free for all and where students were given a form of financial support. Today, this support has long been taken away and the loft for user payment has risen to 9000 pounds (approx. 80.000 kr.) a year!
The government is once again using foreigners as scapegoats and will justify the savings with the argument that it will curb foreign students. It is claimed this will be done by the introduction of an employment allowance to facilitate the repayment of the SU-loan for students who stay and work in Denmark. Firstly, this will tie young students to stay in Denmark after finishing their education. Secondly, it should be noted that this employment allowance funnily enough only applies to employees; what happens to those students who become unemployed after ending their studies? There is no mention of this and one must therefore assume that they must pay back the full amount. The government has launched an attack on students – a counter attack must be launched. The cuts on the SU must be fought!
The attacks on SU are just one small part of the austerity policies that have been conducted by successive governments for many years. The same policies can be seen all across Europe, and indeed the rest of the world. It is a policy dictated by the capitalist system, which is in an impasse, unable to secure a future for the younger generations. After the crisis in 2008 it has been even harder to press politicians to concessions through struggle, as they defend a system in its death throes. As long as capitalism exists austerity policies will persist. The battle is not about fighting a single cutback, it is a fight against a system in crisis, a struggle for a socialist revolution.