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Socialist Students members fighting for free education

‘Poverty premium’ for students in Scotland – Fight for free education for all

William Campbell Aberdeen University Socialist Students 

The conditions for students have deteriorated further in the last year. The National Union of Student’s (NUS) poverty commission report says that students from working class backgrounds face a ‘poverty premium’. 

Many students who work pay higher costs in accessing higher level of education. Low wages, cuts to vital services such as transport and child care make it more unfeasible for students to attend their courses, leading to high drop out rates and preventing potential students from applying for university or college.

Figures from the Office for Fair Access show that a near 10% of students from disadvantaged backgrounds dropped out of their first year of university in 2015/16. 

During university or college, the average rent a student pays weekly is £125, leaving some students as little as £8 per week to live on from their maintenance loans (averaging £138 per week).

Some universities are asking for a staggering £860 per month (University College of London)! These rents are a result of massive profiteering  within the  private rented sector and university run accommodation.

Students’ Unions should fight and campaign for rent control. University housing should be publicly funded and owned with an end to privatisation and PFI deals.

Councils and the Scottish government should use their powers to enforce rent control in the private sector. Students who work are expected to receive £112 weekly on average to meet the cost of living, but to earn this often requires working jobs that impact the minimum 15 hours a week students are recommended to study.

Students from poorer backgrounds leave with a higher than average rate of student debt of between £50,000 to £57,000. The average starting salary of a graduate is £23,000.

To end the debt burden we must demand a return to grants that enabled students to study rather than chain them down in unending debt. Students and young people must organise uniting with the trade unions to combat the commercialisation of education.

Socialist Students demand

  • Free education for all
  • Cancelation of all student debt
  • Bring back living grants that fully cover the cost of living
  • Build with the trade unions a mass campaign for a £10/hr living wage for all and an end to exploitive contracts