Socialist Worker

A generation's dreams are shredded by the Tories

Issue No. 2316

The logic of the market—of privatisation and competition—is the Tories’ guiding light. But you only have to look at the future facing young people to see where this leads.

It’s just one year on from the riots, where mostly young people rose up against the police and government attacks. Not least of these was the abolition of their Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

This week hundreds of thousands of teenagers will get their A-level results, and face some difficult choices.

The Olympics was supposed to “inspire a generation” to follow their dreams. But most will not be choosing which of their dream courses or jobs to embark on. For many it will be a grim choice between paying £9,000 a year tuition fees or joining the dole queue.

The coalition’s “opening up” of education to the market has quickly resulted in two-tier higher education. And this scandal is only in its infancy.

There were 15,000 fewer applications to universities this year because of the fees rise, a study shows. But still many universities say their courses are already full or almost full.

This trend has been made worse by the government’s policy that universities can recruit as many students as they like who have achieved the top grades in their A-levels.

So universities have “filled up” on these students, leaving others to fall through the net. The idea of education for all has no place in David Cameron’s worldview.


Alongside this is the rise of private universities and colleges. The latest to enter the fray is the first university run by a top FTSE 100 company. Pearson, owners of the Financial Times, will start teaching business degrees in September 2013.

They plan to “focus” on business, then expand to English literature degrees accompanied by their books wing, Penguin.

Pearson also owns exam board Edexcel. Such are its standards of education that in 2010 it was found to have put out an impossible AS Level maths exam. An unanswerable question was worth a third of the marks.

Having businesses in education means that private companies and individuals can dictate what students learn and who they can learn it from. Education is reshaped to meet the needs of the market.

Meanwhile those who aren’t as useful to the bosses are left out in the cold. Instead they will scrabble to find even low-paid jobs.

There are now more than a million under 25s in the dole queue—almost 22 percent. Young people are three and a half times more likely to be unemployed than adults.

There’s only one answer—fight back. Join the TUC protest on 20 October and the student march for education on 21 November.

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What We Think
Tue 14 Aug 2012, 17:44 BST
Issue No. 2316
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