Through all the rhetoric of New Labour over the years it has become quite clear that they are failing on their flagship promise of 'Education Education, Education'. Of course New Labour not content with simply that but look like they are on the right track to failing a whole generation!
According to UCAS 570,556 applications for university places have already been made by the end of January which is a rise in 22.9% from last year. If applications continue to come in at the current rate throughout the summer it is estimated that there will e a shortfall of 300,000 places! That is not just 300,000 less students but 300,000 more to join the already long and ever growing dole queues!
But why has there been such a rise in applications this year? There does seem to be various reasons for this according to UCAS,which states that many more school leavers are opting to say on in Higher Education because of the lack of employment opportunities. Many young people who have already lost out on a place last year have reapplied this year. Most significantly there has been a huge rise in the applications of mature students, presumably because there are no jobs around and the alternative is the dole queue. It is the very reason why I am back in Higher Education and the reason for the significant amount of mature students I see around campus as well. Figures show that applications for over 25s has risen by over two thirds.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of UCU said “the government were abandoning a generation who instead of benefiting from education will find themselves on the dole. It gets worse though as Vice-Chancellors have openly admitted that students from working class backgrounds are more likely to loose out as students from better (i.e. in middle class areas) schools would be selected over others. Despite the obvious need for more university places the official statistics show that the level of places will remain static although many universities have indicated that places will go down.
To any current student it seems obvious that places will be down just by looking around at the cuts already taking place. In the University of Glamorgan there has already been huge cut backs and officially they haven't even began. Seeing many courses disappear it is obvious that places will e down. In the background though universities are trying their hardest to entice more and more international students because of the higher fees they pay bring in higher revenues, the solution they see for the cuts in the Higher Education budget. A problem easily solved by VC's and their ilk taking a pay cut from their obscene wages.
New Labour spin always tells us they have opened up opportunities for us, but what are the opportunities for a young person today? To take party in the University lottery and if you are one of the unlucky 300,000 to join the never ending dole queue? Despite the spin that New Labour have opened up access to education recent figures published in the Telegraph say that the amount of British students has actually fallen by 0.6% in the last 10 years and the increase in students numbers has been the result of more and more international students rather that a widening access to Higher Education.
It seems clear now that young people no longer has a choice of whether to fight back, the decision has already been made and the only decision left to take is how to fight back.
Join the Youth Fight for Jobs demonstrations outside the Welsh Assembly on 17th February and in Barking on the 13th March. - For Decent jobs and Free eduction for all!