Youngsters will face a life of debt
In the aftermath of the “student” riots, it is easy to be distracted by stories of the violent few, but we mustn’t forget what these changes are likely to mean in a borough such as Islington – a borough where 45 per cent of young people live in poverty and even now 14 per cent of young people are already classed as not in employment, education or training.
While tuition fees have been the focus of the news stories, the axing of the EMA (education maintenance allowance), to be replaced with a complex and impractical alternative, is perhaps even more serious.
The EMA has made a big difference to the level of educational participation and achievement of young people from poorer households.
Combine this with the university tuition fees hike and the concept of social mobility has been dealt a serious blow.
Our degrees will now be among the most costly in the world. Many people will be priced out of going to university – and those who do go will be saddled with huge debt.
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All this at a time when our young people are facing increasing unemployment and anxiety about the future.
The Green Party is the only party that supports the end of tuition fees now that the Liberal Democrats have performed the most shocking about face.
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It is a myth to say we can’t afford to fund higher education. As the Green Party’s MP Caroline Lucas points out, a more progressive policy would be a business education tax levied on the top four per cent of UK companies, which would generate enough annually to abolish tuition fees and take our public investment in higher education up to the average in other comparable countries.
We have choices. Sadly the coalition government has decided to saddle young people, who are simply trying to improve their life opportunities, with tens of thousands of pounds of debt.
This misguided policy is likely to have far reaching consequences on the success of this borough and its young people. – Caroline Allen, Islington Green Party, Peacock Place, N1.