Whining about student finance is the problem not the solution
Saying that funding changes are “scaring” disadvantaged pupils away from Cambridge is an idiotic self-fulfilling prophecy.
This week’s budget caused outrage for many students. Facebook was full of people offering their startling insights – “fuck the Tories” being the most common.
The Guardian, the Mirror et al. jumped on the band wagon with story after story about how the government was trying its shiny brand-new policy of social cleansing – getting the poor out of our universities.
Closer to home, The Tab branded as “outrageous” the idea that tuition fees may rise above £9,000 a year and that maintenance grants could be replaced by loans.
Helena Blair, CUSU’s Access Officer, described the move on grants in particular as “scaring smart kids from low income families away from the best universities”.
Well Helena, I have news for you.
Changes to university funding themselves aren’t risking scaring smart kids from low income families away from the best universities. People like you are.
To be crystal clear, CUSU, JCRs, Colleges and the University do loads of great work in encouraging disadvantaged kids to apply to Cambridge. I’m even willing to concede (shock horror) that CUSU for all of its flaws (#justiceformilo) has its heart in the right place on issues like this.
But CUSU and much of the left have got to realise that their rants about rising tuition fees and changes to grants are more damaging to access than anything the government has ever done.
Any rational person can see that the current system is intrinsically more progressive than the one it replaced. In fact, because of the rise in maintenance loans announced in the budget, most students will now be better off whilst at university. That means a better quality of life, less Sainsbury’s basics, and more VKs.
This is an issue about where people are going in life and not about where they have come from.
There is nothing progressive or morally defensible about future Cambridge graduates, however disadvantaged their background, who are going to earn far more than the average person having their educations paid for by the state. As a friend of mine observed recently, “why the fuck should the taxpayer have to foot the bill for me spending three years poncing around reading Plato?”
Like tuition fees and current student loans, the loans replacing maintenance grants won’t be repayable until you earn over £21,000.
So in a nutshell, if you come from a disadvantaged background, you still get the money you need and even though you will have more debt, you don’t have to repay it if you can’t afford to.
Wow, that almost sounds fair! The student quoted in the Tab claiming that she wouldn’t have been able to stay in uni under the new system totally missed this simple fact.
It’s pretty clear that there is absolutely nothing which stops disadvantaged students from being able to afford to come to top universities like Cambridge, especially with things like the Newton Trust around providing bursaries.
Admittedly there are still issues surrounding the high cost of living, but yet again, lefty rants about tuition fees are not helping anyone here either.
Saying that funding changes are “scaring” disadvantaged pupils away is an idiotic self-fulfilling prophecy.
Let’s be honest, George Osbourne doesn’t give a damn about student outrage over funding changes, especially when the best slogan that pathetic, intellectually bankrupt groups like CDE can come up with in protest is “fuck off”.
But, and here’s the problem, some disadvantaged potential applicants might listen to those insisting that we now live in a country where the poor cannot afford higher education.
Thankfully, despite the forecasts of doom, since the rise in tuition fees to £9,000, applications to university, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, have actually continued to rise.
Clearly most applicants are bright enough to see through the politically motivated fiction that only some people can afford to go to university.
But even if one disadvantaged kid is put off applying because they get this impression from the self-righteous, sanctimonious ranting of the left, then that is an inexcusable tragedy.
So next time you feel like venting about higher education funding and the fucking Tories, look in the mirror and consider who your words are really hurting.