The Privatised Life of a StudentOctober 2, 2013
by Guy Howie, UCLU Marxists
Students coming to London this year face an unprecedented attack on their education. Ever since the Tories and Liberals trebled fees to £9,000 in 2010, we have seen university funding continually rolled back and the costs of student living soar.
For London students in 2013 the cut-backs have reached a critical point. At UCL, the “Bloomsbury Masterplan” – a £500 million sell-off of many of the university’s assets – has been announced. This includes the closure of the university’s medical centre, Gower Place Practice, at the end of this academic year to make way for research funded by big business.
The removal of subsidies and increase in costs means an ever increasing percentage of students in work, to the further detriment of studies. Many will simply be priced out of studying in London. The £18,000 annual fees non-EU students are forced to pay is increasingly bearing the burden of funding London universities.
We can see the future capitalism offers EU students in the way they exploit prospective overseas students. The situation for students in Britain and internationally is that more and more places are going to the highest bidders.
That such a scenario exists today, after half a century of free Higher Education and grants, and little over a decade after Tony Blair promised 50% of young people in affordable Higher Education, demonstrates the dead-end capitalism finds itself in.
Easily accessible healthcare is being closed to UCL students because the lease on the building which houses Gower Place practice is expiring. In the same way the quality of education afforded to students is dependent on the capitalist system: what was given in the time of boom must be taken away again in a crisis.
Our education and future is being sacrificed over the bail-out of the banks five years ago. But students have a right to free education; our potential contribution to society far outweighs the public cost of education. This right should be in the democratic control of students, not owned by a small few seeking to profit from us. To achieve such control we must unite with workers to fight for democratic control of the whole economy – to fight for socialism!