The class struggle resonates through every fibre of modern civilisation. Education is not exempt from this. We have witnessed the devastating effects of this bourgeois government on education as a result of the capitalist crisis. From pre-2012 an undergraduate degree would cost roughly £20,000 however today that cost has soared to £38,000! With the planned changes to maintenance grants this sum will rise further to reach just shy of £50,000.
The availability of this credit will forever burden the next generation of workers and make education for a mass populace financial madness. This deterrent to develop one’s education is primarily aimed at the poorest in society and reinforces class boundaries. However the bourgeoisie do not only attempt to prevent social climbing through the astronomical cost of higher education. This deterrent pales in comparison to the looming threat of unaffordable student housing. As a student of UEA I was shocked to find that most postgraduate accommodation would cost £6,000-£7,000 per year! Considering that my student finance per year is £3,500 the university in fact supplies no accommodation within budget. This is not an uncommon occurrence even with full maintenance loan and grant at £7,000 a student will require outside financial support.
At present university rents are increasing far above inflation. Soon this will mean all families that cannot offer financial support will be priced out of university accommodation. As this is happening the market for private renting is increasing. This surplus of students is giving landlords free reign to charge extortionate rents for sub-standard accommodation. It is commonplace for mould ridden and overcrowded properties to be deemed ‘acceptable’ for student accommodation. Not only does this endanger the health of the occupants but it drives the acceptable standards of housing even lower. This is combined with forced 12-month contracts when for most students there is only 10-months in the academic year. The cost of privately rented accommodation is increasing far above that of inflation and therefore that of the maintenance grant. Very soon a large section of society will be completely cut off from higher education. This will once more only allow a privileged elite access to the fundamental right of education.
It is time to act! The Marxist societies must push forward motions to the student unions. We must demand a reduction in the cost of accommodation, which should never exceed the maintenance loan let alone the combined loan and grant! Ultimately we are fighting for free accommodation for all. We must lobby for more affordable accommodation to be built and provided by the universities. Sub-standard accommodation must be immediately and swiftly rectified. Whilst pressure on the student unions is key we should also be applying pressure to local council and MPs. We must demand that they join our side in the fight to improve standards of rented housing. We must advise tenants to withhold rent until the property reaches an acceptable standard. We must also promote the idea of rent control within the Labour movement and take it to its logical conclusion – the expropriation of the biggest landlords. Corbyn has openly challenged the rented free market and is sympathetic to the devastating effects that it is having on the lives of the proletariat and communities as a whole. It has been too long that these petty-bourgeois have exploited us. The students must strike back hard against these exploiters, make an example so that the rest of society may follow.by
by Dan Hudson, UEA Socialists