Why Class Act Supports Free and Accessible Education

Why Class Act Supports Free and Accessible Education

As a campaign for students from working class, low income, state comp and first gen backgrounds, we would like to take this opportunity to state our support for free education in the run up to the Free Education Demo happening on Wednesday 15th November. This demo is an important symbol to the current government and the general public, that education should be free and accessible for all – and Class Act stands proudly with others to showcase our dedication to this principle.

We oppose the marketization of higher education, and support opposition to TEF. Marketization is a term used to describe the introduction of market principles into higher education, such as competition between institutions and treating students like consumers. The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) allows universities deemed ‘excellent’ to “increase their tuition fees in line with inflation”.[1] Higher-ranking universities would charge higher fees, deterring low income students from applying. Oxford is one of 45 institutions to have currently received a Gold; higher fees would only serve to undo the work being done by student groups to improve access to the University.

We call for the abolition of tuition fees and oppose the recent fee increases, introduced in 2016. Tuition fees place a far larger financial burden on those from low income backgrounds as opposed to those who can pay their fees outright. Financial anxiety is a real and apparent struggle for many of the students we represent. Leaving university with a higher debt burden because you come from a low income background is unjust and unjustifiable.

We oppose cuts to higher education. The abolition of tuition fees should not be used as a justification for such cuts.

We call for the reintroduction of maintenance grants. The government’s shameful decision to cut these grants in 2016, and instead only offer loans, has again left the lowest income students saddled with the most debt. This exacerbates the debt burden already placed on these students by tuition fees. This is absolutely unacceptable.

For these reasons, we support ‘National Demo: Free Education Now’, happening on Wednesday 15th November 2017 at 1pm, on Malet Street, London. This demo promises to be an exciting moment in student activism. If you want to get involved, there is a group meeting at Gloucester Green Bus Station at 10am on the morning of the demo. Details are here.

However, we appreciate that not everyone will be able to attend, for whatever reason. One of the aims of the demo is to bring the conversation about free education into the public consciousness, so posting your thoughts on social media with #FreeEducationNow (or even just sharing this statement!) are also valid ways to support this important cause.