Angry students condemned ‘university Hunger Games’ as Roehampton undergraduates joined the backlash against tuition fee increases proposed in a government report on higher education last week.
The green paper outlined changes to education that mean universities could increase fees beyond the current maximum limit of £9,000 a year, if they showed they offered a good service.
“We should never have to choose between higher education standards and student debt,” said Marie Johansen, 22, vice president of education at Roehampton Student Union.
“We do not believe that the views of our members are being listened to by the government or those in power.”
She explained that increased student fees would only lead to greater barriers into higher education, particularly handicapping those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The National Union of Students’ (NUS) vice president, Sorana Vieru, described the proposals as the biggest change to the higher education system since 1992, condemning them as pitting providers against each other.
“This green paper talks about entry and exit to the system – this is the university Hunger Games and the ones losing out are students and academics,” she said.
“It changes the landscape of institutions allowing private providers to enter the sector under the false belief that competition drives quality.”
The government defended the changes saying they would give students better value for money and boost education standards.
The green paper’s focus on improving teaching standards was praised by the NUS on Friday as it simultaneously rejected any further increase to fees.
NUS president Megan Dunn said: “Teaching should always be a key focus of higher education but NUS is adamant that the ‘Teaching Excellence Framework’ should not be linked to an increase in fees.
“Students should not be treated like customers.”
She vowed to ensure that the NUS would ‘make sure the student voice is too loud for the government to ignore’.
National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, a coalition of students and workers fighting against tuition fees and education cuts, suggested that the bill would mean further tuition fee increases in the future without votes in the commons being required.
The group has ruffled government feathers, particularly with this week’s mass student demonstration in Central London.
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