Thousands of students and academics will be taking to the streets of London on Saturday to make their voice heard about the damaging reforms being made to higher education, with members of the Young Greens amongst them. Young Greens NEC member Alice Kiff explains their reasoning below.

Our generation are witnessing the introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework, a further increase in university tuition fees and the scrapping of maintenance grants. All of these are making education inaccessible, elitist, and treating it as a luxury for the privileged few rather than a means for anyone, no matter their background, to further their learning and gain a valuable qualification.

Across the country students are angry at the changes to tuition fees which are being made without our consultation and which are plummeting us into debt we didn’t ask for. Fees for many courses and unis have risen past £9000 per year for home students, and are set to rise to £12,000 by 2026. The Green Party fully opposes tuition fees and believe that university should be free, and that existing debts should be written off, to make university an accessible and free option to everybody.

A collage of Young Greens holding up signs explaining how much debt they are in due to their education.
Young Greens show how much education has cost them.

Another threat to further education that the Young Greens oppose is the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). In 2015 the Conservative government committed to ‘introduce a framework to recognise universities offering the highest teaching quality’, and this has taken the form of the TEF which is looking to allow higher performing universities to raise their fees as a reward. TEF is opposed by the National Union of Students, who instead support the development of teaching excellence beyond the restrictive, narrow definition currently held by the government.

“The new Teaching Excellence Framework – or TEF – is a totally wrong-headed measure which will turn universities into exam factories, students into consumers, and education into a commodity,” says Georgia Elander, a Young Green studying at the University of Sheffield. “Students are already leaving university with debts of up to £50,000 – if it cares about our generation building a secure future, this government should be making higher education more accessible, not less. In the Green Party, we believe that education is a common good and that universities should be striving to broaden horizons, not struggling to meet arbitrary metrics. Everyone who cares about the future of education should be fighting tooth and nail against TEF.”

It’s time for us to mobilise, and the Young Greens are prepared to make their voice heard on Saturday against the unfairness, and say no to fees, no to cuts and no to debt.

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