Christian students say increased tuition fees 'a barrier to education'

The Student Christian Movement has reacted angrily to the government's decision to substantially increase university tuition fees in England, claiming that the prospect of thousands of pounds of debt will deter students from poorer backgrounds, and lead to students choosing degree subjects that are likely to lead to a well paid job, rather than a better society.

Charlotte Thomson, SCM member and student at the University of Birmingham said: "The government should be breaking down barriers to education, not putting up new ones.  Higher fees and cuts to the education maintenance allowance will deter students from poorer backgrounds from applying to university, and promote privilege over fairness."

She added: "Faced with the prospect of thousands of pounds of debt, graduates will be forced to look for well paid jobs, rather than using their education and skills to help others."

SCM are now calling on the government to impose tight restrictions on universities that want to charge the higher fees, forcing them to introduce measures to ensure that students from a wide range of backgrounds are able to go to university.  

The Student Christian Movement is an ecumenical student-led movement passionate about faith and justice.  SCM brings students together to explore how to live out the Christian faith in today's world. For more information see:

On 19 November the Bishops Conference of England and Wales expressed concern over the Government's  policy decisions on Higher Education funding.

They said in a statement: "Whilst recognising the need to create a system which is robust and sustainable yet also fair and accessible to all, especially the poor, we urge the Government to consider the long-term implications of these proposals. A decision to fund only Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects in all universities and colleges assumes a utilitarian approach to higher education in providing skills predominantly for industry. We fear the negative impact this move will have upon society as a whole. It will also adversely affect those institutions of higher education involved in the training of teachers, including our own university colleges and Liverpool Hope University.

We recall the words of Pope Benedict XVI speaking to students at St Mary's University College in Twickenham recently: "Always remember that every subject you study is part of a bigger picture. Never allow yourselves to become narrow. The world needs good scientists, but a scientific outlook becomes dangerously narrow if it ignores the religious or ethical dimension of life, just as religion becomes narrow if it rejects the legitimate contribution of science to our understanding of the world."

Source: SCM/CCN

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