Education funding fails to make the mark

I DISAGREE with Amber Rudd and Richard Meade that the government’s education proposals are fair or sustainable.

The tuition fee increases are part of a package of education cuts that will reduce equality of access and damage education.

The best people to ask whether the new fees will prevent would-be students from going to university are the future and current students themselves.

They demonstrated their passionate opposition when 150 students marched through Hastings.

Richard is over-optimistic when he argues that local people from poor backgrounds will be exempt from their first year of fees.

The university think-tank Million+ found that available funding will pay for only 5,500 students nationally to benefit at full rate, only half the (already shockingly low) numbers of free-school-meal pupils who currently make it to university.

Running the scheme will also be financially unsustainable for many universities, resulting in a disincentive to take students from poor backgrounds.

The Coalition Government intends to remove the Education Maintenance Allowance which enables young people from low-earning families to afford to stay on in education post-16.

Local young people will face financial pressures to leave education long before they consider university.

Those that do make it to university will find a system seriously destabilised by huge, rushed cuts to the teaching budget and marketisation.

Amber suggests that it is unfair for low-paid Hastings taxpayers to fund higher education.

We contribute in order to increase opportunity for people from all backgrounds, including locals.

We all benefit when graduates use their skills to work in health and education, engineering and scientific research, or socially useful enterprise.

This ethos of public service, eroded since the 1980s, is hardly likely to flourish in the environment of increasingly privatised universities, where students are encouraged to treat their education as an individual investment to be cashed in.

The education cuts will not even help us through the current economic difficulties.

The Higher Education Policy Institute points out that proposals “will increase public expenditure through this parliament and into the next” and that fee repayments will not come back to the Treasury for many years.

CHARLOTTE POTTER-POWELL

Norman Road, St Leonards