Yesterday, I attended my first 2 hour Spanish lesson that I am privately paying for. Forking out £200 for classes in order to pass a module that for some shitty reason is required on my course irritated me. It seemed like another example of how working class students can be priced out of receiving a decent university education. I am fortunate enough to have people in my life to help me out with hidden course costs like this, but not everyone is.
While I was sat there waiting for the class to start I did the maths. I was receiving 40 hours of lessons for £200, which works out as £5 an hour. There were only 20 students in this class, substantially smaller than most of my lectures. I was given 6 colour worksheets in this first session to complete – I am not sure I have ever received a handout in one of my lectures. There were also welcome drinks and snacks for this first session. I realised my £5 an hour was getting me far more than my £9,000 a year degree. The teacher was competent and made learning much easier than in the Spanish classes I had taken at university last year.
My class yesterday has left me more frustrated and pissed off than usual. The right wing bullshit about how the marketisation of education is a good thing for universities and pupils alike became more apparent than ever. What the fuck am I paying £9,000 a year for? My £5 an hour Spanish classes were substantially better than my £115 an hour lectures. Essentially, I’m getting a fancy piece of paper from King’s College London; I am racking up nearly £50,000 worth of debt for a certificate. I want to be excited by learning and exploring and understanding the world more competently. Instead, I’m working 25 hour weeks to pay rent and becoming increasingly disillusioned by an establishment which couldn’t give less of a shit about what I think.
Roar released an article today outlining how TAs are underpaid, overworked and the negative impact it’s having on students. This is just another example of how students are being screwed over. Half of our teaching is not done by professors and most of our marking is undertaken by exploited teaching assistants. No wonder King’s is ranked 111th for student satisfaction. We exist in a system which sees students as fees, figures and funding and not as a collective future generation who deserve free access to the quality education King’s claims to offer.
It becomes more and more difficult to tolerate the consumerist bullshit about how paying for a degree empowers students to demand more from their universities. The Coalition government has fucked up a generation of students and institutionally fucked the higher education system. Students are not empowered, they are crippled with a debt that seemingly has no positive trade-offs.
To top it all of, this week the Tories released their manifesto. Their shitty polices range from forcing all students to take ‘traditional’ subjects (and neglecting the varying interests and strengths of pupils) to forcing more testing on students. Their manifesto doesn’t stop at shitty education policies though. No, it continues to support the rich – offering tax breaks to millionaire home owners. They continue to push policies that oppress the most vulnerable in society – from the bedroom tax to scrapping the Human Rights Act. It is clear that they don’t care about vulnerable people. Increasing fees to £9,000 was only the beginning of their program of exploitation and continued support of the wealthiest in society.
Education is a right, not a privilege. It is a public good. Bring on the revolution.