Editorial: Taking Back our Education

On the 4th of November, students from across the country gathered in London to protest against the current state of higher education.

Despite the vibrancy and passion of the protesters that day, most media coverage was either negative or non-existent, and the government itself barely took notice, or so it seemed. Only 2 days later, the Green Paper was released.

This report, which is claimed to ‘put students at the heart of education’ details massive restructuring of the HE system, allowing universities to raise their fees above the already contentious 9k – that is, if teaching quality is high.

Part-time and mature students, who have drastically reduced in numbers in recent years, were not considered.

After organising and venting the anger about the current system, students were left frustrated and angered by the state of affairs of what the government has produced.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) (discussed in the news section) will grade universities according to criteria such as student satisfaction data and graduate destinations.

As Bath has had consistently high student satisfaction data for several years in conjunction with steadily climbing the national league tables, this is very likely to greatly effect students at this University. This is as well as the fact that the UoB is a STEM-focussed university, and also the fact that Bath students generally have very favourable graduate prospects.

Bath is hardly a bastion of social mobility, but these changes are sure to price out the poorest potential students at our University. Our Vice-Chancellor, who did not disapprove of the previous rise in tuition fees and cut in maintenance grants, is hardly likely to resist these changes.

So that just leaves us students. bathimpact does not endorse any particular political stance, but does care about the future of students at this University.

The Conservative government has proven many times that they will completely ignore the wishes of students in higher education. They will flaunt this disregard for students until we do something about it. Although the system is being dismantled, it is an exciting time to be in higher education.

The only positive from this all is that it is getting harder and harder to be politically apathetic. This issue, in the Features section, we have an article from a student who attended the protest. They discuss what we should be expecting from our higher education system, and the frustration felt when the Green Paper was released.

Importantly, they talk about what students can do to help change the current situation. Around this University, which admittedly isn’t the most politically active, left-wing groups and societies have begun to sprout up as a consequence of this injustice.

Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts and the Left Solidarity Society both have events planned for students at Bath who want to get involved. It is important that students care about this issue, and take a stance about it – whatever that may be.

As a collective student body there has been an increased sense of political activity since the election last year. This should be capitalised on (pun intended) as change has occurred when there has been a small collection of driven people with a purpose.

We need to be heard in order to not continuously be treated as commodities, subjected to market forces. A discussion about these changes to our education needs to occur – we are so much more, and we deserve to be treated as such.

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