Our worst fears have been confirmed….

Yesterday Aberdeen university (In Scotland to clear that up to anyone reading this from outside the uk) officially announced it would charge £9000 fees to RUK students (rest of united kingdom). A couple of things here, something I personally was hoping would not happen, but something many of us, ESPECIALLY that from within student unions up and down scotland as well as NUS (National Union Of Students) http://www.nus.org.uk/ expected.

It is an issue i feel very torn upon. without a doubt I hate the concept of high fees, essentially your giving someone £36 000 worth of debt before they have even looked at a prospectus, before they have even recieved their first part of student loan (which is even more debt they’ll have to pay back!)that kind of debt may be well above the money they will be earning in their chosen field per year after they graduate.

Is it fair that someone studying medicine to go on to be a private doctor working for bupa essentially earning in a very modest/high pay bracket pay the same amount for their degree as the person coming out to be a struggling artist? Or someone else who studies medicine, works just as hard as the doctor but comes out and decides to do something just as worthwhile but with less pay (such as midwife, nurse or any other less well paid position within the health system).

Should it not be more like a tax system, In which the people who do best out of university, who achieve the most, pay a fair and progressive tax BACK into universities, to help fund courses, that everyone pay a sensible and FAIR amount for their degrees.

How can universities trump “widening access” for the poorest students, or for students from different backgrounds and then in the next breath put £9000 fees above the door. I cant imagine anything else as contradictory as that. As an Executive of education for my university (Heriot-watt). It’s my duty to hold my university as well as my sabaticals (vice president and president) to account, to work in partnership with the university on this issue, to lobby and strive for better for the students. If fees are unavoidable then what is the next step, In my heart of hearts I will still aim and protest and fight for students to have a fair deal…but if we lose that battle, then what is the back up plan…we argue and debate and lobby to get more oney in students pockets, bigger grants and bursaries for the poorest students, for all students. we argue for things like scholarships, much like the american system, where if your talented and very smart you can get exceptions or financial relief more so than if you come from a family where everyone went to university and your parents earn over a £100 000 a year!

Me and Mike, the current vp and stand in president at Heriot-watt plan on working closely this year at challenging the university to keep its pledges, that if it claims widening access then lets see it, lets track it and how can we make it better, even with the fee crisis. We (the union and the university) have a duty to all our studeents wether foreign or uk or scottish. To give them the best they can get, where are these fees going if we can not reverse them, there is surely going to be vast surpluses from students paying roughly £1,800 every year to £9000 thats an extra £8,200 in the universities pocket I will push with all my might to ake sure that goes back to the studets, that a university cannot then remove its technician staff (the people who make a university run smoothly behind the scenes) if it plans to charge that level of fees, a university should be updating halls, renovating rooms, creating more seating space as well as study space.

We are still not sure where everything will go with RUK fees. If you want to know what you can do, at any level, college or university (lest we forget colleges have been hit just as hard if not harder FE education is in just as much peril from cuts especially EMA and bursaries) Then get on to NUS, visit your sabs, pop into your union, check online for protests, links to email your MP’S we have a voice, a very loud one, that will be listened too. But we need more, I wouldnt get anything done around campus, or at our marches if i just stood there with a megaphone shouting by my self, we need strength and solidarity, we cannot divide ourselves as RUK and scottish, we are in this together, I marched with 1000’s of other scots at the first london march even though they were only passing judgement on english universities, together we stand.

I have never been as inspired or as moved by going to NUS conferences, people who work tirelessly on a national and local level to really make change, many doing a thankless job purely because their doing it because its something they believe in. They do over 40 hours a week, they are usually understaffed and running to tight deadlines, many are also Sabaticals at their own university meaning their juggling national campaigns and local issues at the same time. There is a reason you can only hang around NUS for 4 or 5 years at the most, because it takes such a toll on peoples personal life. Poeple put the job first, I think I would do the same, after seeing the way i took all my positions last year, Its very easy to say ” too many people are depending on me”. I hope im sensible enough not to let it effect my health like last year though.

this may have been ranty, meandering, not made much sense and generally a bit pointless.But i just wanted to pose some questions and discuss what this could mean for education for scotland and the uk. Are we going down a slippery road outpricing the poorest students, heading for the old education system where only the rich can go? or will this make our universities better and give out more “21st century graduates with all the skills they need”.

please feel free to post a comment.



~ by conorstrife on August 28, 2011.

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