FUCK FUTURE FINANCE – THE FRIGHTENING REALITY OF PRIVATE STUDENT LOANS

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By Lewis Martin

CW: mentions suicide.

Sometimes targeted adverts reveal to you more than you wanted to know. I’ve recently been experiencing facebook ads for Future Finance, a company that offers loans of up to £40,000 to students, with an interest rate of 17.45% APR for all the time that you’re studying. To put that in perspective, if you borrowed £7000 over 5 years, you’d have repaid a stonking £11,223 by the time you’ve paid it off. This eye watering example reveals both the current state of Higher Education financing and a frightening future that is increasingly intruding on the present.

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A CO-OPERATIVE FUTURE FOR STUDENTS – BEYOND TUITION FEES #9

By Lewis Martin

It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.

Up and down the UK, from Edinburgh to Brighton, students are building alternatives to existing, exploitative housing and food practices. How? By creating co-operatives! These alternative ways of organising are expanding and flourishing at a rate never seen before, as students look to take their lives into their own hands, in defiance of the rising cost of living and exploitative landlords and businesses. The founding of Student Co-operative Homes, a launch pad organisation for potential student housing co-ops across the UK founded by the grassroots network Students for Co-operation and supported by national co-op federation Co-Ops UK, demonstrates the growing support for these independent, democratic projects.

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ANOTHER HIGHER EDUCATION IS ALREADY HERE – BEYOND TUITION FEES #8

By Sarah Amsler

It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.

‘The university’ is a fertile space within which to practice radical imagining and world-making today. I do not mean that actually-existing universities, in the UK or elsewhere, necessarily provide space for such work. On the contrary, there is ample evidence that the spaces for critique and creative thinking in higher education have shrunk as forces of commodity fetishism, privatisation, competition and authoritarian modes of control have permeated university governance. Continue Reading

WHAT ARE UNIVERSITY COMMUNITIES MADE OF? – BEYOND TUITION FEES #6

By Ellen Musgrove and Max Savage

It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.

At any demonstration concerning the anti-marketisation or -commodification of education and the university you will hear the phrase “We are not consumers – we are a community.” The motive behind this message is a good one, bearing positive and uplifting implications for the demonstrators. However, to those outside the demo space, be they apathetic students passing by or workers who may not have the freedom to stop and participate as readily as an academic might, calling ourselves a community means very little in a practical sense.

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DOCUMENTING DISAPPOINTMENT – EDUCATION IN THE AUTUMN BUDGET

by Laura Potts

Last week saw the government’s Autumn budget released for public scrutiny. The report starts by stating that the United Kingdom has “a bright future”, with talk of an independent economy forging new relationships with the EU. This long term plan is meant to give voters the belief to take the long road with the government for a better Britain, but their sweeping statements do not at all sit in line with what I and many others would see as a ‘brighter future’. This is as true in the field of education as any other.

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WHY LORD ADONIS IS WRONG ABOUT POLYTECHNICS

by Lewis Martin

This week, former education minister Lord Adonis decided to reopen a debate that was seemingly long-dead. During a report to a House of Lords Committee, he stated that the decision to allow polytechnics to become universities 25 years ago was “a very serious mistake”. This problematic claim reveals the real views of someone who has lately been seen as posing significant challenges of the higher education sector’s issues.

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THE TUITION FEE FREEZE – TOO LITTLE TOO LATE

by Laura Potts

As the country continues to languish in the grasp of a Conservative government, and the shadows of brexit and the snap election continue to lengthen, many are left questioning the political standing of this country’s future. This year’s extraordinary general election has made many people feel alienated from their government, especially among the younger generation. Hardly surprising, as the ultimate outcome reflected the voting preferences of their elders, with 58% of 60-69 yr old’s voting conservative while 62% of 20-24 year olds voted labour.

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BLINDED BY IDEOLOGY – TWO YEAR DEGREES REVISITED

by Lewis Martin

Back in March, the MinoriTory government announced the idea of running fast track two year degree courses in the hope of saving students money. Last week the Times Higher Education supplement revealed that surveyed students from lower socio-economic backgrounds would be more likely to take this option up if it existed. Could the Tories’ apparently hare-brained scheme in fact be justified?

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WHY THE TORIES DON’T CARE ABOUT NURSES

by Lewis Martin

CW: death, disease, corpses.

Last week we heard that the number of people applying to become nursing students has fallen by 19% in the past year. As this is the first application cycle since government cuts to NHS bursaries, for many this will not be much of a shock. It’s clear that the government’s decision to take away this provision that allowed many students to attend their courses will have serious detrimental effects, not only for the institutions that train nurses but for the NHS as a whole.

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DEBT RISING – HOW TUITION FEES ARE KILLING UNIVERSITIES

by Lewis Martin

Last week it was announced that the total student debt in the UK has reached over £100 billion for the first time. Whilst this milestone was inevitable, it is nonetheless an indictment of the current government’s claim that it is easy and convenient for students to pay off their debt under the post-2010 system.

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A RAY OF HOPE – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #5

by the UEA Young Greens

In the midst of multiple crises faced by students, universities and schools, the outcome of the snap general election will be a major indicator of the future of the UK education sector. Each week until the vote we are featuring perspectives from our regular contributors and guests on what the election could mean for students.

On June the 8th the country will head to the polls for Mrs May’s snap election. This election has been called because, in a remarkable display of hubris, May and her Tory cohort expect to win a huge majority so she can continue to pursue her campaign of cuts whilst also pushing for a Hard Brexit. If they’re right, the future looks rather grim.

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STUDENTS NEED A REVOLUTION – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #1

by Bradley Allsop

In the midst of multiple crises faced by students, universities and schools, the outcome of the snap general election will be a major indicator of the future of the UK education sector. Each week until the vote we are featuring perspectives from our regular contributors and guests on what the election could mean for students.

Students have been at the forefront of progressive politics and change throughout the centuries. We were engaged in the 1848 revolutions that shook Europe, and front and centre of a wave of radical protest that shook the world in 1968. We played a part in challenging apartheid in South Africa and the continued Israeli abuse of the Palestinian people. Most recently we are leading the way on fossil fuel divestment.

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TAKING ON THE SPECTRE THAT HAUNTS HIGHER EDUCATION

By Bradley Allsop

We’ve all seen the headlines – tripled tuition fees, retroactive changes to the student loan book, the nefarious uses of the National Student Survey. Often treated as isolated issues, these policies are in reality the foot soldiers in a war being waged to undermine the very foundations of our universities, twisting them from hallowed halls of challenge and transformation into bland centres for corporate training and indoctrination. This spectre haunts academics, senior managers and even Students’ Unions alike, forcing them all to dance to the mantra of the market, to the profit agenda. This spectre’s name is capitalism.

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PRICE HIKES AND RENT STRIKES – SOLVING THE UEA ACCOMMODATION CRISIS

By Lewis Martin

Whist chatting to a friend last week I found myself looking at the price of accommodation at UEA for the next academic year. I found that the prices are set to rise yet again, with the price of the most expensive undergraduate accommodation reaching over £5800 a year, or £153.30 per week if you want your shocks in smaller weekly doses rather than one big lump.

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OXFORD’S PUBLICITY STUNT WON’T CLOSE THE UNIVERSITY CLASS GAP

By Lewis Martin

This month Oxford University, in conjunction with the Sutton Trust, launched a summer school aimed at attracting more “white, working class boys” to the university. While this has received praise from some sectors of society, it does not address the real reasons why working class people (not just boys or men) are not attending universities like Oxford.

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A CALL FOR THE DEMOCRATISATION OF POSTGRADUATE EDUCATION

By Alex Powell

New postgraduate loans have made extended higher education more accessible. While the situation is far from perfect, and access to further higher education remains restricted for many, new possibilities have been opened up. However, if students are to make the best of these opportunities, they need guidance.

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INSULT & INJURY – THE STUDENT LETTINGS RIPOFF

By Alex Powell

In 2014, the NUS reported that three quarters of students had suffered issues with privately rented accommodation. Such a high proportion is indicative of an endemic problem within the private rental market, a problem that disproportionately impacts students. Since the publication of this report, the problem has only gotten worse, as inflationary pressures have pushed up the price of rents while student loans have remained stagnant. Students now face more issues with finding decent housing than ever before, and many are left living in less than ideal conditions, to say the least.

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WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT PERFECTIONISM

By Alex Powell

Perfectionism may seem like a fringe issue – a few of us are self-proclaimed perfectionists, but that’s just a personality trait, right? Maybe not. Issues of perfectionism have had a dramatic impact on my studies, and I have seen it increasingly manifested amongst the students around me. It is a key indicator of many other issues which students face in the modern university environment.

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THE MANY COSTS OF STUDENT POVERTY

By Laura Potts

Maintenance grants are a thing of the past and student accommodation costs are rising by the year. Is it any wonder that 80% of students worry about having enough money to get by? As a student myself I am surrounded by people whose rent is higher than their student loan, leading them to make sacrifices on important aspects of their lives, such as their diet. In many cases, students must choose to let their own health suffer as a result of lack of funds.

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MANY FIGHTS, ONE MOVEMENT – NUS UNITED FOR EDUCATION DEMO

by Cherry Somersby

Content warning: mentions racism, racist violence

From Whitehall to Millbank, placards reading ‘No Fees, No Cuts, No Debt’ filled the streets as NUS President Malia Bouattia addressed 15,000 students ready to fight fees and stop the Higher Education Bill on Saturday. This comes at a time when students are turning to loan sharks to cover their costs, our loans are being attacked for being ‘illegal’ and ‘unenforceable’, and the threat of rent strikes is truly on the agenda.

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GAME OF LOANS

by Sam Naylor

I’m sure there were resounding cheers from students and would be university slackers when universities across England began detailing their 2017 tuition fee rates. Some places, like the University of Manchester, have already stated that 2017 students can enjoy a mild increase to £9,250 per year of undergraduate study, whilst institutions like our local favourite UEA have been more cautious on their website assuming a 3% inflationary increase year-on-year (which is pretty much the same thing but it’s like Manchester has included a picture of the middle finger whereas UEA has written hahaha in small letters.)

Some might think that the universities of Manchester, Kent, and Durham are jumping the gun a bit as MPs are yet to vote on the increase in parliament but I’d rather see it as an eager sign of increasing students’ experiences rather than a money grabbing exercise. We will all remember being constantly instructed by our most benevolent regime to ‘live within our means’ and that acquiring debt is terrible for a country but a must for university students.Continue Reading

DEAR STUDENTS: IT’S OK TO BE RICH

by Candice Nembhard

As someone who prides themselves on coming from a Black, working class background, I can honestly say that my attitude towards wealth, especially inherited wealth is not as big a deal as many may think. I am fully aware that an institution such as university is a privilege, which in itself brings together people of different backgrounds and different experiences in their upbringing. That in part is what makes the experience of being a student all the more interesting — being invited into a world unbeknownst to you.

In that respect, university life is a microcosm of our society: people of differing economic status and political alliances co-existing (for the most part). As I said, my attitudes to wealth are largely unaffected, but I cannot deny that I have noticed that attitudes towards wealth from students who come from a ‘privileged’ background, often come with the feeling of shame.Continue Reading

EDUCATION AND COLOUR: THE IMPORTANCE OF BME STUDENT COMMUNITIES

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by Candice Nembhard

From #oscarssowhite to #rhodesmustfall, a spotlight has been shone on the lack of diversity and positive representation for POC across numerous institutions. Although these discussions have been catalysed in online spheres, the implications of these hashtags reference the real experiences of silencing and downplaying the importance of solidarity among BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) people — particularly in student environments.

In 2015, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) conducted a study that suggested more BME students as opposed to White British students were enrolling in university — despite statistically ‘underperforming’ in academia. A general consensus made by researchers was that students from minority households have higher aspirations regarding education than their white counterparts, even with the increase made to tuition fees and the potential privatisation of student loans at hand.Continue Reading

#STOPTHESELLOFF – THE RESURGENT CAMPUS BASED ANTI-AUSTERITY MOVEMENT: THE STUDENT RADICAL #2

In certain circles, there is the perception that the transformation to the ideal of the student as consumer is complete and that therefore the student activist and a radical student movement is a thing of the past. Although there was the anti-fees flashpoint in 2010, the argument goes, now the modern student is more concerned with getting their money’s worth from the education they directly pay for, than they are about changing the world.

Over the last four years there have been countless examples of campaigns that prove this thesis wrong. This series of articles seeks to explore those campaigns, what they have achieved and what they mean for the student movement and the Higher Education sector as a whole.

by Chris Jarvis

A year ago, the coalition government announced the next in a long list of right wing policies that would disregard ordinary people and seek to outsource the State under the veneer of deficit reduction. This time, it was their second major attack on the Higher Education sector and students after the now infamous tripling of tuition fees in 2010 and took the form of a proposed privatisation of the student loan book.

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