According to the Tories’ new plan for university education, applicants who don’t pass GCSE English and Maths will no longer be eligible for student loans. This disgraceful policy will effectively block off a quarter of young people from getting into university. 

Not only will many university students have to shoulder lifelong debt, but should these plans go ahead, some will now be expected to pay £9,250 up-front every year if they want a degree. To most people, this is impossible. 

Class divide

This new policy will further stifle working class students’ access to education. It shows once again that Tory austerity is hitting the worst off in society the hardest.

Not only will this unfairly bar students whose parents can’t afford to pay massive university fees, but there is a strong correlation between students’ wealth and the likelihood that they pass their GCSEs in the first place. The wealthiest 20% of society, having access to the highest-quality education, are five times more likely to pass their GCSEs than the poorest 20%. 

This is a direct consequence of the class disparity intrinsic to capitalism, reflecting the difference in economic and social conditions between the wealthiest in society and the poorest. 

As capitalism goes into crisis, the ruling class is attempting to squeeze as much as possible out of the working class. This new plan is one more example of how the poor are being made to pay, while the rich hoard money to spend on private education. This demonstrates that for all their talk of ‘meritocracy’ and ‘social mobility’, the Tories in fact continue to perpetuate a rigid class system.

Marketisation

The capitalist class in Britain are constantly trying to claw back money to lessen the growing public debt, and boost their profitability. We are seeing attacks on living standards across the board. This change is just the next domino in this battle. 

Of course, money will never be clawed back from the richest. Indeed, British billionaires have doubled in number since COVID first began. This is a war on the working class and students are experiencing the effects of this in their own lives.

Universities have been opening their doors to the capitalist class for the last decade. This first and foremost affects the arts and humanities, as seen at Goldsmiths, where the English and History department are facing mass cuts and forced redundancies.

This issue brings to the fore the logic of privatisation and the consequences of the marketisation of higher education. 

The process began with the introduction of tuition fees in 1998. Their steady increase, eventually jumping to £9,000 in 2010, marked a decisive shift. Infact, in the twenty-three years that have passed since this legislative change, tuition fees have increased by eight-hundred-and-twenty-five per cent. 

By introducing this barrier of a pass in maths and English GCSEs, the government is simply following a process that has been set in motion for many years. 

Free education

This is a policy that will limit the development of society overall. Education should be free for all who want it, all throughout their lives. The current system simply churns out students into a depleted job market, with lifelong debt weighing on their shoulders. 

The resources exist to facilitate a thorough, wide-reaching education system that would allow people to pursue their interests freely. However, as those resources are privately held, a small minority of capitalists are able to drastically limit the opportunities afforded to the working class.  

Access to higher education will become narrower and narrower so long as we are bound by the interests of the capitalist system. The only real way to end this cycle is to overturn the system entirely. 

Vic Lancaster 


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