Student Debt

Surprisingly enough, this is a continuation of the last post – a few final messages were given at the end of that AI talk, with the one from Rohit Talwar being a little less about AI and a little more about the lives of his two uni-age daughters! He was on the topic of encouraging young people to get a degree in Artificial Intelligence, and made the point that abolishing university fees would be a good way to go about motivating young people to enter the industry, given that they wouldn’t have to face £50,000 of debt afterwards. This (of course) was met with cheers from the crowd (including my own!).

Whilst this may have been a little more politically fuelled than the panel was meant to be, he makes a good point. Without doubt, the fear of being “educated into debt” is excluding or discouraging students from reaching their full learning potential. The ability to pay back £50,000 of debt is clearly being prioritised over ability itself! Our Conservative government’s argument against reducing this burden on young people (From £9,250 annually to £3,000) in 2017 was this;

Anyone with the ability to benefit from higher education should have the opportunity to do so. All eligible students can apply for an upfront loan to meet the full cost of tuition fees.

Apply for a loan. Yes, those same government loans which made changes to the conditions after they had been taken out – something which would be illegal for any other organisation offering loans, and which plunged students already dealing with their ridiculous amount of debt into further problems. The government claims that it’s only looking out for the taxpayer. When exactly do we start paying tax? University age. And what’s better than taxation in society? A well-educated population. Business and public services benefit from that far more than just having money pumped into them – you can’t simply throw money at someone to make them a brain surgeon.

Not to mention of course, the generation making policy decisions on student debt in parliament is the one that had a financially stable student life, when grants encouraged them to go to university. Now they’re making the decision to burden us with a lifetime of debt (at the time of a housing crisis!). The lack of regard for those worse off is to be expected in a Conservative government, but that doesn’t mean we have to stand for it.

Corbyn has been speaking out for abolishing uni fees altogether, which is undoubtedly one of the causes for the meteoric rise in student voters for Labour in the last election. But the problem hasn’t gone away, and is only going to get worse, with universities set to be increasing their fees to £10,000 a year by 2020. We need more people to fight for the right to education as a human one, and not one exclusively for those in a position to claw themselves out of a debt which could buy you a Rolex watch with £15,000 left over.

– L



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