It is generally accepted that the more educated a population is, the more society benefits, but universities, businesses and the government continually raise barriers for those looking to go into higher education. This is because, instead of being seen as a way to educate and better the lives of everyone in society, universities and colleges are now another revenue stream.
Therefore, any support for those who need it whilst studying was stripped away with the scrapping of the maintenance grant and the cost of tuition was tripled in order to maximise profit.
Finances should not play a factor in whether one can go into higher education or not. There is enough money in society for everyone to go into higher education if they choose to, but it is currently in the hands of university bosses and big businesses.
Higher education is run like a business. And like any business, under capitalism this means universities are in competition for consumers: students. Consequently, they are forced to be as marketable as possible and therefore spend a massive amount of money on vanity projects, advertising etc. foregoing funding for other areas (such as study spaces, accommodation and mental health services) which is more important to the success of its students.
This is only the case due to the increased competition that comes with the marketisation of higher education. Without the need for profit, universities would not have to spend as much on marketing and could improve areas which actually benefit its staff, students and society as a whole.
With the desire for profit comes the need to lower costs (i.e. attack workers) and we have seen both teaching and administrative staff suffer in recent years from the marketisation of higher education. Many are now on rolling contracts so that they do not need to be paid during holiday breaks and last year, we also saw widescale strike action taken by members of UCU in order to defend their pensions.
On top of all of this, the student loan system itself is unsustainable. With students graduating university with an average of almost £40,000 of loans to repay and going into a shrinking job market, there is a growing mountain of debt which will eventually end in disaster when it turns out the money is not actually there.
The answer to all these problems is simple. Fund higher education not through increasing student loans or lowering the wages of staff, but by seizing control of the banks and biggest companies in the country and funding education through the profits they have made off the back of workers. Not only this, but we need staff and students to take democratic control of universities and colleges so that they are run in the interests of everyone not just those looking for profits.
Josh Cole-Hossain, UEA Marxists
Motion to be heard at Conference:
304a Amendment to Graduate Levy Amendment: Fund Free Education by Expropriation
- To campaign for free education, to be funded by taking the entire education sector and the 150 biggest businesses and banks into the democratic ownership of the workers
- To campaign for a national and democratic plan of education and research based on the needs of society, not the profits of the rich.