Divided Britain

Jessica Chapman (Great Britain, UWCiM, 2010-2012)

The New Year got off to a less than good start, with the aftermath of the students riots hanging in the air and tensions over the coalition government holding a precarious role in the eyes of the public. Upset has been caused by a Conservative – Liberal Democrat government which have broken promises as well as cuts being made left, right and centre to help the failing economy. But who is going to bear the brunt of this? The students of course!

University fees have now been raised to a staggering £9,000 each year, with scholarships also being cut it is hardly surprising that this struck a chord with students. For the first time in a long time, students stood together in protest of a possibly devastating plan. Clearly, changes need to be made, the economy is in awful condition, unemployment is rising and many graduates are unable to find work. By raising fees and decreasing scholarships universities are becoming an upper class further education excluding any that don’t have a house with a swimming pool and a sports car. Forking out £9,000 each year is a struggle for a lot of families, especially those trying to help more than one child through the system. During times like these we all accept that something needs to change but is hitting our education system the hardest going to help? This is seems like a poorly thought out act of desperation with only the consequences in the short term being given recognition. In the coming future there will be a generation of the uneducated and unemployable; my generation, our generation. This generation will have to rely on the state for its survival, the same government that put it in this state in the first place. We became victims to this same mentality the last time the Tory’s held power. Still, there are the remnants of the destroyed mines, the workers and their families. Whole communities made redundant by a government afraid of the power its people held so, as many in power, they set about destroying the community. No though was given to the long term effects just a malicious attempt to destroy any potential threat.

Also to be taken in to consideration is the horrific effect on the country itself. Universities are becoming upper crust public schools, widening and ingraining the divide between rich and poor. Those with talent are simply disregarded as they cannot pay extortionate fees whereas those with a sever lack of intelligence can just buy their way into the country’s so called top universities. In the future we will be left with a country governed by an unintelligent race of wealth.

A country is built on its people, and the people of the future are the students. This generation is being stunted through restricted education and an increasing division between rich and poor. Not only are these constrictions damaging current and future generations but also the image of Britain in the eyes of the world. Some of the universities in Britain are acclaimed as the best in world but when admissions are reserved only for the wealthy how can this prestigious image be kept intact if no access is granted to those with lack of funds. This is a time in which we should be standing together, allowing ourselves to grow, educating our children, as one nation.

-United World Colleges Student Magazine-

One thought on “Divided Britain

  1. Hello there:)
    This is a very well written and all-round article, and I can see that you’re very moved by the tuition fees increase, just as many of my friends and other students who decided to demonstrate on the streets or occupy the university’s library as an act of protest. I can see the outrage, but let me just point out that there isn’t really that much ground to it.
    UK is actually very generous in terms of student loans and additional social grants for lower-income families. One can take a subsidised loan for all tuition fees that there are, regardless whether it’s 3k or 9k.
    You’re not expected to start repaying it until you graduate, get a good job and start earning above a certain threshold, and it can only take limited part of your income so that it doesn’t burden one by too much. The interest rate is just inflation, also if you don’t pay it back in, I think, 25 years then it’s written off.
    Think of it as a tax for your graduation you’ll start to pay in ten years time only when your grand plan has succeeded, you finish the degree and get that dream job it gave you. I can’t possibly see how it would increase the gap between rich and poor and how it would discourage the talented kids from poorer backgrounds from making their dreams come true. You have a point with rich kids buying their way into good unis, as this happens to some extent; percentage of private school students in my university is definitely higher than this 5% or how great a part of the market private schools constitute.
    What the fee increase does, it stops the government fund people degrees that don’t really make them contribute more to the economy, like liberal arts or social sciences. And whilst some might argue that there can never be too much poetry and unemployed sociologists on the job market, I’m quite happy with the situation- firstly, because I’m not one:), secondly, because we somehow need to fund the research in physics and medicine and push our civilisation further.
    By the way, I am also moved with social divisions in the UK as it’s really staggering here. Poorer kids do end up much worse off and it’s hard to break the poverty circle. The problem begins much earlier though, with state schools and how bad is the quality teaching there, and also the system that relies on examinations, what promotes private schools that can prepare for exams better. I’m going to bed now but perhaps next time you write about “Divided Britain” you could write on this one:)

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