Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Nick Clegg

So it looks like the rise in student fees will go ahead.  I'm already finished with uni, but that doesn't change the fact that this is a terrible decision.

I started university just over four years ago, paying roughly £3,000 a year for four years, and that was separate from the living expenses I incurred during this time.  This means I've graduated with around £20,000 of student debts.  I had a friend who was in my class but had applied the year before, taken a gap year, then joined our class.  He and all students from the year above me paid half of that £3,000 a year - around £1,500.  And very soon students could be paying as much as £9,000 a year.  That's an increase of 600% in a very short time.

While I accept that the debt isn't something that needs to be repaid immediately - student debts are one of the cheapest loans you can take out - I think even more important is that these kinds of figures will be enough to put a lot of prospective students off going to uni.  University degrees in the UK are becoming less and less valuable, and I think many people will choose to avoid the hassle altogether and not go at all.

But even worse than this is that Nick Clegg has made a complete U-turn on one of the main points of his election manifesto.  I remember the fervour that swept the UK during the last general election as the Lib Dems seemed like they might make an impact on British politics for the first time ever.  One of the points the party emphasised was abolishment of tuition fees.  Nick Clegg was even one of the MPs who signed the National Union of Students' pledge to oppose a rise in tuition fees.  Yet now he is fronting a push to triple them.

I think what makes it even worse is that Clegg built his whole campaign on a policy of honesty.  Well now that he is in power he couldn't have done anything less honest than this U-turn.  And then what makes it even worse is that he's the MP for Sheffield Hallam, which means he was elected by myself and many of my student friends.

At least David Cameron never said he would abolish fees.  Yet Clegg is happy to be the face of this tuition fee hike and try and persuade us it's an absolutely necessary cut. It's not. Cuts are currently being made in various places at an average of 11%, but cuts to university teaching budgets are nearer to 80%.

This is just another move to line the pockets of the universities and those who supply the student loans. It all works out for them in the end, while the students bear the debt in the long term.

This was the year when the Lib Dems finally found themselves with some influence over British politics, and Nick Clegg has made a complete mess of it. He's split his party and pulled them away from their liberal morals in an attempt to side with Cameron and the Conservatives. And he's lied to the British public after building his campaign on a pledge of honesty. All I can say is I think it will take the Liberal Democrats a long time to recover from this once this disaster of a coalition is over, and that I'm glad I'm well and truly finished with university education. And I'm sure Clegg will never win back his seat in Sheffield Hallam again.

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