13 October 2010
The Young Greens, the youth branch of the Green Party, has condemned the recommendations of the Browne review which call for the cap on tuition fees to be scrapped.
The Young Greens expressed concern that UK institutions may soon be charging the highest level of fees in the world, as universities such as Oxford and Cambridge compete with US Ivy League institutions.
Charlotte Dingle, co-chair of the Young Greens, said this afternoon: “The UK already charges some of the highest fees in the EU (1). Now we’re looking at the highest in the world with the adoption of a market system. This will likely lead to a two-tier system – one for the rich in elite universities, and a race to the bottom for the rest.”
“A public good, of benefit to society as a whole”
Ms Dingle outlined the need to view higher education as a public good and of benefit to society as a whole, rather than being viewed merely as improving employment prospects for individual students:
“We believe education must be free, equally accessible to all, ideologically independent and of high quality as well as meeting the individual developmental needs of each student. Browne’s recommendations undermine these principles, as students from low-income households will be put off by debt. Rather than widening access to university, these proposals will make our already unfair system more elitist.
“The only way to ensure an equitable system is to scrap tuition fees altogether, funding higher education through increased taxation on top earners. That way, those who benefit most from higher education pay towards the cost without saddling all students with crippling debts at a time when jobs are scarce and housing costs are spiralling out of control. The Green Party is now unique in supporting free education for all.
“But it’s not just the coalition government who are responsible for this. The Labour Party also need to accept their share of responsibility for the position students now find themselves in. It was Labour who introduced fees, and their failure to argue that a highly educated society benefits everyone means we now have to fight against this hike.
“Young Greens are supporting the National Union of Students’ demonstration against cuts to higher education funding in London next month, and we encourage all students to join this protest.”
1. See Education at a Glance 2010: OECD Indicators: http://www.oecd.org/document/35/0,3343,en_2649_39263238_45897844_1_1_1_37455,00.html.
2. The Young Greens are holding their annual Convention in London on 23-24th October, where activists from across the UK will be planning a campaign against the Government’s cuts to public spending, highlighting how these will hit young people particularly hard. For more information go to http://younggreens.org.uk.