by Tom Robinson – UCLU Welfare and International Officer
Students and our education are under attack like never before. We have already seen the tripling of tuition fees in 2010, a measure that barred many potential students from coming to university. Meanwhile, our education has been steadily marketised, with our institutions run like businesses aiming to generate profit.
Now the government intends to entirely scrap maintenance grants, replacing them with loans. This will mean that students from the poorest backgrounds take on yet more debt in order to access an education – if they even start at university in the first place. We know that many students who relied on maintenance grants in order to make it through their degree simply would not have been able to come if they had been forced to take on thousands of pounds more of debt instead.
We know that the system was not fit for purpose in the first place. Any system for allowing access to grants which is based on means testing will mean that some students do not receive that they need. It is difficult to legally prove estrangement from your parents, which means that many LGBTQ students who do not receive financial support from ‘phobic parents are unable to claim the amount of grant that they require. We can’t argue that we should keep the current system: we need to demand a radical change, with living maintenance grants for everyone.
We cannot and will not sit quietly as the government destroys the final chance for anyone other than the vastly rich to go to university. All around the country, students are mobilising. Students organised a series of protests and occupations of MPs’ offices in mid-September, demanding that they oppose government plans to scrap maintenance grants.
On October 14, students will be demonstrating at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to demand #GrantsNotDebt, and on November 4, students from all over the UK will converge on central London to march in our thousands to demand free education and living grants for all – no barriers, no borders, and no business.
- Also don’t miss our UCL activist meeting on Monday evening to find out more about how to get involved on campus! ‘WTF is Going on?: The fight for free education’ – full details here.
- And, the next meeting of our ‘UCL, Cut the Rent‘ campaign on Wednesday. Details here.