Nick Clegg loses his seat! A debt ridden student celebrates
We are extremely pleased to publish this article by Aidan, a leading member of Socialist Students in Coventry. More comment and analysis on the election will follow
I write this as a student who has just finished 3 years of university and now weighed down by tens of thousands pounds worth of debt. Bye bye Nick Clegg! Enjoy the dustbin of history.
Nick Clegg has lost his parliamentary seat of Sheffield Hallam to Labour, a significant loss for the Liberal Democrat party and an overdue reward for his attacks on young people whilst propping up the tories during the 2010-2015 coalition.
Like so many young people in 2010, I was a member of the “I agree with Nick” crew. The promise of free university education, a fundamental right for everyone, along with a manifesto that at the age of 14 I thought was to the left of what Labour was offering was enough for me to support the Lib Dems.
Just as these promises got a younger me to support the Lib Dems, so too did Clegg’s betrayal and the tripling of university fees, plus the propping up of a vicious Tory government, pushed me towards socialist ideas. The Lib Dems showed their true colours, orange on the outside and blue on the inside. Like so many young people, as evidenced by the student protests in 2011 at the increase of tuition fees, I learnt that capitalist politicians cannot be trusted.
Socialist Students have been fighting against the effects of the coalition and the regressive ‘reforms’ that they made to higher education.
Here at Coventry University working class students will be celebrating Nick Clegg’s loss. They will potentially leave university with over £50k worth of debt, having their living conditions squeezed with maintenance loans that in some case only just cover the cost of rent and the prospects of finding a stable post-graduate career is just a dream.
I was fortunate to have a part-time job to help me with the costs, however like so many students who had to do bar or retail work this is a massive time commitment, and when you are stressing about coursework deadlines or an upcoming exam the last thing you want to do is be wasting valuable revision or study time and go to work to be paid a poor wage to afford your education.
As well as these direct effects on students living standards the commodification of education that the Lib Dems supported and made possible has encouraged a business-like nature to Coventry University that again has affected students from working class backgrounds.
Instead of the university seeing itself as providing a public service, it is now run like a for-profit business. Students are treated as piggy-banks to have money squeezed out of them. This is evident in the housing sector where Futurelets, the letting agency that has the university as its sole shareholder, charges extortionate rents and charge admin fees of unheard of levels. They charge hundreds of pounds in some cases, but no one really knows what work they do to justify that!
Staff are treated like in any other business, with an article in the Guardian (27/11/2016) comparing Coventry University’s management to Sports Direct! Finally, and most tellingly, the University is now cutting the Hardship fund, a fund given to those students most in need, to basically non-existence. This is a move that has shocked Student Unions up and down the country as when approached by Coventry University Students Union they can’t believe the callousness of this move. The harm this will cause Coventry students is no-way worth the small amount of money the university will save! Not that with a profit of over £25m Coventry University needs to save money!
Coventry Socialist Students have been on the fore-front of resisting all these issues. Whether it is for free-education, to tackle the housing crisis in Coventry for students and local residents, supporting the lecturers and their union (UCU) or fighting for the protection of the Hardship Fund, we are campaigning against things that can be blamed on Clegg and the Lib Dems propping up the Tories. Students and young people will not shed a tear over him getting the sack from parliament.
This election electrified young people with a youth turnout at unheard of levels. Young people have responded to the socialist policies of Jeremy Corbyn: Free Education, mass house building to tackle the housing crisis and a £10hr minimum wage for all, not just the over 25s!
We will be supporting these demands on our campus and nationally and students haven’t forgotten Clegg’s betrayal. Only socialist ideas have the answers for young and working class people so let’s fight for them!
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