Under a newly proposed plan, the Conservative Government is suggesting further fee increases beyond the current £9000 cap, dependent on student feedback. The increases will apply to institutions which perform well in the National Student Survey (NSS) and would reward higher achieving Universities with the ability to remove fee caps and increase the cost of tuition in tandem with inflation (which could potentially skyrocket following the triggering of Article 50 next March).
While this may sound like an incentive for improving the educational experience and career prospects for students, the real impact would be seen in greater student debt, and in dissuading future students from lower income families from attending more established and educationally superior Universities. Without any formal limit on the proposed fee increase, the current £9000 cap could soon only be charged by the universities which perform the poorest. The Shadow Higher Education Minister, Labour MP Gordon Marsden stated:
‘This is looking like a Trojan Horse for increased tuition fees and brings the danger of creating a two-tier system that could brand some universities as second class.’
Between the removal of maintenance grants for students from lower income backgrounds and Theresa May’s plan for the reintroduction of grammar schools, the potential divisions in education will certainly exacerbate the existing class divide, and make social mobility a whole lot harder.
In typical Tory form, instead of taking steps to help increase student satisfaction at Universities that might be failing, they intend to increase the endowment of institutions that already provide a satisfactory experience. Aside from making students pay extra for having the audacity to achieve good A-levels, the proposed bill could see fees increase year on year, and remember: the people making this decision were never asked to pay a penny in tuition fees themselves.
The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) and the National Union of Students (NUS) have already called for the boycott and sabotage of the NSS should the government not rethink its plans before next year’s instalment. Students at Goldsmiths have already sought to make their voices heard. On Tuesday the 4th of October, Goldsmiths Finance and Resources Committee voted to increase its fee requirements, and scores of students took to the streets outside Deptford Town Hall in protest. The following Saturday there was an attempt to gatecrash the Goldsmiths Open Day, and over a dozen students took to the stage in the Great Hall to warn prospective students of the potential fee increases and Goldsmith’s complicit attitude.
These events are likely to be the first of many which will see Goldsmiths students actively protesting further tuition fee increases. A national demonstration – ‘United for Education’, is set to take place on Saturday, November 19th in Central London, organised by NUS and UCU, and we at [smiths] urge you all to attend and make your voices heard.