After the re-election of the Conservative party in May, the fear for students’ higher education has increased. Since the coalition government was in power, tuition fees have risen from £3,000 to £9,000 and are unsurprisingly expected to rise again during Cameron’s second tenure as Prime Minister. The question that now probes us is: should education be considered a privilege or a right? Should we all be able to have an education or should it be a speciality reserved solely for those who can pay for it?
In “First World” countries, we are brought up with education around us without a price. We learn and develop, not at home but, at school. We are educated with the social necessities of manners and kindness, as well as the academic basics of subjects like maths, English and science. Our society has taught us to depend on the education system and therefore we develop and discover ourselves through this. Social skills are established too, as we make a variety of friends and socialise with others. Education provides us with all the norms and values of our culture and prepares us to go out into the world.
However, once we rise through pre-school, primary school, secondary school and college, we are suddenly stuck. The privilege of a free education evaporates and if you wish to obtain a high-earning and established profession, you must pay for your required qualifications yourself. The government’s “hand-holding” support is no longer there and we are pushed off a cliff to fight for our education ourselves. Of course, there are those who have always paid for their education, accruing a special type of privilege in the form of personal contacts, heightened confidence and an almost guaranteed place at the UK’s finest universities, yet the security net for those who have relied on the state for their education is pulled from underneath them, whilst their wealthier counterparts continue to revel in their privilege.
We, as the human species, have an instinctive urge to learn and to advance. This is evident through the centuries of scientific progression, from believing the earth was flat to now venturing out beyond our atmosphere and into the surrounding universe. This is stunted by lack of opportunities and the oppressive nature of the government. The Conservative party, through raising the tuition fees and doing away with maintenance grants, are impeding social mobility and a move toward equality. We are pushed back into our structured social classes that restrict individuals from achieving their goals and becoming what they want to be. Our aspirations are then subdued due to the indoctrinated ideas of a set class system, promoted by the government, their wonderful friends of the media and other institutions which restrict our ability to work hard and ‘rise through the ranks’. Whilst this picture may seem extreme, it does to a small extent represent the impact of an increase in tuition fees for higher education and the implemented structures that come to bind us are oppressive ideas that don’t allow for diversity, personal achievement or individuality in our society.
Is education a privilege? Yes, it is. Is education a right? Yes, it is. It is both. Education is a privileged right that we should be very grateful for, but also should be a necessity in our lives and a totally viable option for students. Financial struggles should not be a barrier for the academic abilities of students and we should all have the opportunities to advance our knowledge for the future in higher education. The current political system gives a group of people the power over all the systems and institutions in society and the current government seem to be tearing apart the education system until it will be eventually meaningless. We have a fighting and kicking education system in the UK, why should it be held back?
Words by Will Moore