The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Pricing the Poor out of Education

Apr 3, 2017

The following article is copied from Workers’ Fight, the paper of the British revolutionary workers group of that name. Its subject will be familiar to readers in the U.S., except that the increases in the cost of university education are even more shocking in Britain, where it used to be free.

Over a period of 19 years, university education has gone from free for all, to 1,000 pounds a year (1,250 dollars) under Blair in 2009, and now as much as 9,000 pounds a year (11,250 dollars). This is outrageous. Knowledge has become a commodity to be bought and sold. And like all private companies, university managements are trying to cut costs and raise prices on “their commodity.”

After removing the annual 9,000-pound cap on university fees, the government is allowing increases in line with inflation. So fees have already jumped to 9,250 pounds, and will soon cross the 10,000-pound mark. For a three-year undergraduate degree, this will come to 30,000 pounds (37,500 dollars)! Universities fear that all this could put off potential “customers,” for whom it would be unaffordable to spend these amounts (plus housing and living costs for three years!) while being unable to enter employment during a full-time course. Their solution? To offer an assembly-line-style “fast-track” 2-year degree – but for the same price as a 3-year course!

Education for profit is leading to crazy scenarios. How can knowledge, which is our inheritance from the whole of human history, be “monopolized” by a handful of private companies? No, it needs to be freed from their stranglehold.