Opinion

‘Cut fees, think smart’ – education is a human right

By Tara Rawson

I am a 15-year-old student, currently studying at Millais Secondary School in Horsham, and at the present time I am working on a campaign as a part of my Citizenship GCSE.

The campaign is regarding university fees and describes the hardship and lack of support students and families alike receive when applying for university.

My aim is to lower university fees and hopefully in the future, even eradicate them completely. So far, as a group of three eager campaigners, we have made serious headway in our quest for a fairer society. I myself have written to the local MP, Francis Maude, and have received a reply recognising his support and understanding of the severity of the issue.

We have set up a Facebook page which is in its beginning stages, we have created a range of leaflets and fliers that have been put up around our school and town, and have even created a ‘viral campaign’ which will be uploaded onto Youtube, (with the potential of going viral), in the next coming week.

Speculation regarding the high fees tagged to University attendance has been on the minds of students and families alike for many years now, due to the fact that such high costs are depriving thousands from a further education every year.

Last year saw record figures in this department, with Universities all over the UK claiming they’d witnessed 15,000 missing applicants.

A right to a free education is, as it happens, one of our key human rights, of which everybody should be entitled to, although this human right has suddenly been discovered to be far less important than the others. Free education is a right, which may be listed on a formal declaration signed by the UK, but the terms of the agreement are not being abided by.

Furthermore, the Government continuously says that ‘we will do everything in our power to stop fees from rising’, but on the contrary, every single year we are gullibly misled and we watch fees rocket once again.

The issue of the high tuition fees may even be up for legal challenge. In our society the cost of something massively determines who the product will appeal to and who can afford to consume it. In this debacle University acts as the product, how intelligent a student is, or how capable they are, or how much potential they have, hardly counts for anything anymore.

In fact, University applications have dropped because they are now almost wholly determined on who can afford to send their child on to further education. Surely, we can all recognize that this is discrimination.

Discrimination in the sense that due to such high fees, we are only allowing wealthier families this unique opportunity, as the high costs attached to University take the attraction away from the experience for poorer families.

The crux of the problem is that we are denying some of the greatest minds of this generation, the chance to reach their potential and enrich their knowledge like they deserve. Why should a figure be able to decide someone’s future, because in essence this is what is happening – the cost of a place in University is denying people the future that they want, certain jobs require certain qualifications, deny people these qualifications and you’re denying them the job.

In addition, the situation of the economy for the UK in the current climate, is most certainly not at its best, in fact Britain’s recent economic performance is the worst since records began, in the pre-Victorian era.

The Government clearly fear making change in terms of our economy, but this is the one thing this financial situation needs! By lowering University fees it will allow a far larger number of intelligent, and gifted students to attend further education, allowing them to gain unique qualifications and to gain careers in the professions; it won’t be too far along the line, (if the situation continues at its current state), that more skilled and professional jobs will be left unfilled, because people simply don’t have the qualifications they need to even apply.

This of course will hugely affect sectors like the healthcare system, and our legal sector, as we simply won’t have enough workers in them. The way out of a recession could even be lowering fees, which alone could be what makes the difference.

Unfortunately, accompanied with lowering fees comes the event of raising taxes, although this act will definitely be worth the while of the public; if lowering fees kick-starts all the positive changes the professionals expect to see, increasing taxes is certainly a small price to pay for the gain we’ll witness.

More than two dozen Universities have submitted plans to confirm that they will lower fees from about £9,000 a year, down to £7,500 per annum. However, this is still not enough. Lowering fees is what we want, but we need bigger change than this. £7,500 is a start, but not all University’s are engaging in this change. Within the next decade we should expect University fees to have been completely eradicated.

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