At 2pm on Monday 21st March students occupied the UCL registry, the main administrative wing of the university. We stand against all cuts and for free education.
We are occupying in solidarity with our lecturers and support staff who are taking part in the UCU strike to defend their jobs, pay and pensions. We as students are taking the direct action denied to our lecturers by anti-union legislation.
UCL management are meeting on Thursday 24th to decide whether to increase tuition fees—we call on UCL management to not raise tuition fees and to lobby against the government cuts.
Management will also discuss the restructuring and outsourcing of estates and facilities. We stand in solidarity with the staff whose jobs and wages are threatened, and continue to demand the London Living Wage.
We call for no repercussions or victimization...
I'm sorry—what? Oh, do you mean "victimisation"?
Well, can I suggest that you capable little intellectuals either learn how to spell your own language, or use those colossal brains of yours to figure out how to switch your MS Word Dictionary to "British English" or "International English"?
... of any students or staff involved in industrial action and associated protests.
We hope that the UCU strike and the nationwide university occupations it has inspired encourage a wave of strikes, occupations and protests leading up to the March 26th national anti-cuts demonstration and beyond. We are all in this together.
Naturally, I sent a reply to these eager little revolutionaries; I thought it best to keep it short and sweet...
We are all in this together.
Um. No we're not. You want me to pay for your education through my taxes, even though the greatest beneficiary of your education will be you.
You want something that's going to benefit you?—you pay for it.
Do you think that they'll be able to decipher that message?
Ever since I read Nick M's post at Counting Cats, I have been considering the following proposition: subsidising students is, in fact, utterly sub-prime—where sub-prime is defined as laying out a considerable sum of money which you have almost no chance of recouping.
This is especially true when such a large proportion of the population now goes to university; how many of those who go to university will ever repay their student loan—let alone contribute enough tax over their lifetime to repay the taxpayer for the rest of the cost?
I reckon that the proportion is pretty small, frankly.
Some people would say that society benefits from having an educated workforce: that may be true, but does society benefit over and above what it costs to pay for these people?
If students are unwilling to pay £9,000 per year in fees, then I think that we could easily conclude that said degree is not worth £9k to the prime beneficiary of this education—what is it worth to those of us who currently have to pay?
So, no: we aren't in this together, frankly.
UPDATE: in the comments, the Fat Bigot makes the point rather more eloquently than I could, rushed as I was...
On the substantive point it's worth observing twenty-odd years ago the student grant scheme was workable and affordable because, generally speaking, there was a pretty good chance that the recipient would pay it back in spades through taxes during his or her working life.
There are only so many people for whom university education can add value. That many jobs now require a degree is a reflection of the fact that degrees from many institutions are seen as the modern equivalent of A-levels.
The lower you set the bar for university entrance, the less likely it is that the additional students (that is, those who get in now but wouldn't have got in when entrance standards were higher) will be net (or you might prefer "nett" [I do—DK]) contributors to the public coffers.
Once the bar is lower you either have a two-tier system of funding whereby the best get tax-funded support and the lesser qualified do not, or you have the same system for everyone. Practical politics requires the same system for everyone. What you cannot have is everyone being paid by taxpayers because
- there are too many of them for it to be affordable and
- only relatively few are of the quality that will repay the gift with a profit for future generations of taxpayers.
This is all basic common sense. Unless you believe in the magic money tree, of course.