Friday, 10 December 2010

I Am Angry...

I woke up feeling very depressed. It felt that the bill to lift the cap on student fees was always going to happen, but still it feels a shocking and a dreadful occurrence today as the reality of it all sinks in. I feel bewildered and devastated about it and the future implications it has for the country’s young people and their families, including my own son and the other children in my wider family.

If I hear one more time from Nick Clegg and Vince Cable that it is fairer than the existing system I will scream. How can raising fees from £3000 to £9000 be in any way fairer? They just bang on about their ‘improved and fairer system of repayment’, but the fundamental question remains: how can raising fees from £3000 to £9000 be in any way fairer? I’ve never sworn so much at the telly and the radio as I have in the last few weeks when they come on. I dread to think what my son’s first words will be…

Apparently those students whose families are on lower incomes who currently receive free school meals will receive the first two years tuition fees free. So that just leaves the remaining £9000 final years tuition fee payment to be made! The amount currently paid for all three years! The group that would ‘benefit’ from this is relatively small, and as usual it is those lower middle or middle income earners like myself that lose out and are not eligible for any benefits. And I thought the government was trying to create incentives for people to work. It is all so absurd, and could be seen as a bad joke if it wasn’t such an awful nightmare. How do Cable and Clegg sleep at night? How? They are a disgrace.

How do I look my students in the eye, and encourage them to strive for University places in subjects such as Fine Art? The way the government has cut by 100% the teaching funding, not the 80% often stated, from all Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences courses across the country including our top Universities such as Goldsmiths and The Slade tells me that they don’t want me to. Arts and Humanities? ‘Not good for the economy’. They want a market driven education model that just breeds the type of morons that appear on The Apprentice. The types of morons like themselves. What value do I have to my students as a Sixth Form lecturer teaching Art and Design? I feel sick with the thought of the future impact this will have on my teaching and my relationships in the classroom. That is of course if I have any future students with the proposed loss of EMA too. In the community I teach, I don’t think any of my students are not currently eligible for EMA. Most could not even countenance coming to college without this financial support.

And if I hear one more time the question asked by our blinkered media, ‘why should the tax-paying Lollipop lady down the road have to pay for your education?’ I will seriously hurt someone. Don’t we actually pay our taxes for such a thing as a good education? Education should be a right not a privilege. What happened to any feeling or vision of the greater good of our society and nation? What good is an uneducated country? A country that lacks heart and soul as courses and choices are eroded by a market-driven University system. What future do we want to create for the nation’s children and our society where they are saddled with mortgage-like debts for the rest of their lives? Weren’t these decisions made in the guise of paying off our huge debt?

I don’t think anyone is fooled that these are decisions are about cutbacks. The speed of these cuts and all the others, betray that these decisions are ideological ones, brought in by a sinister, but all too historically familiar, right-wing form of capitalism. The power tips back to the few as ever. The gains of society such as education return to the privileged. David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ turns out to be a dismantling of the welfare state and any last bastion of society and fairness and hope that we were still trying to cling to.

So don’t question why the students were so angry. They have every right to be angry. We should all be angry. Yesterday was the bleakest political day in my life.

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