When the coalition government raised tuition fees, they arrogantly claimed it wouldn’t deter prospective students. I have read however that just 428,000 people applied to begin courses alone in England this September, compared to 461,000 in 2010. Only three years ago the so-called Liberal Democrats promised to oppose this ill-executed move, but like so many other fictional promises they had quickly abandoned this position when the coalition was cobbled together.
Labour introduced tuition fees under Gordon Brown’s rule, when the review was set up with the deliberate aim of slashing further education spending and preparing the way for increased fees. One of the Labour government’s last acts was to announce an obscene £398 million cuts in higher education, or almost 7% of the higher education budget. As a consequence of Brown’s cuts, more than 200,000 prospective students were denied places in 2010, or a quarter of all applicants. Elitism in our education system seeking to forge a state of educational apartheid where disadvantaged communities are given less opportunities than those in highly wealthy constituencies, must urgently be met with mass opposition from the trade union movement in co-operation with local campaigns.