“No room at the uni”: Labour’s betrayal of the nation’s youth
Not content with creating through its incompetent policies a generation of 18-24s who do not work and are not engaged in any form of education or training, the Government has denied 10,000s of young people the opportunity to go to university at the height of a recession. As my favourite newspaper The Guardian rightly points out,
University admissions tutors said they had been forced to reject thousands of “exceptional” students with clutches of A and B grades because they had no more space.
By midday yesterday, 5,205 students who had missed their grades or not previously received offers had secured a university place. This is almost 2,000 more than this time last year and accounts for about a quarter of all the 22,000 places that were available in clearing.
At peak times, more than six students were battling for every place. On Thursday, when students opened their A-level results, the university admissions service, Ucas, took 18 calls each minute and had more than a million hits on its website.
While 377,658 students had confirmed their places yesterday, more than 140,000 were still seeking courses – 26,621 more than at the same time last year.
No vacancies: Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Warwick, Leicester, Nottingham, York, Edinburgh, Imperial, Oxford, Cambridge, University College London, Loughborough, Surrey and St Andrews
This fiasco truly breaks my heart; there are tears in my eyes as I write this. But for the grace of God, I too could have been one of those refused a university place and denied the ladder of opportunity that university offers.
In 1985 when I was 10 my family was devastated by the industrial decline of the Thatcher years as my father lost his engineering factory job, and I was one of those kids on “free school meals”. But I worked hard, got a place at grammar school in 1993 when I was 17 (after a year out on youth training) and, armed with a GNVQ Advanced Business and an A level geography, went on to a “new” university where I achieved a First Class Honours degree and later a PhD.
Old Universities are currently in a financial mess, as my Russell Group employer is not renewing my 18-month teaching contract on 4th June. Fortunately, a new university has shortlisted me for a Senior Lectureship and I hope to be able to move to pastures new. At last I may be able to return to my nature home, a former polytechnic with a great social mix and also many ethnic minority students. Aston University, where I worked until last year, was a delight, but my first employer – Durham – and my current university were much more elitist.
But now many more students, whether they are endeavouring to enter a new or an old university, are being turned away. “No room at the uni,” could be another epitaph on Labour’s tombstone, just as Mary and Joseph were turned away from the inn.
We need a new progressive politics as a replacement to this morally bankrupt Labour Government, where ministers don’t just shrug their shoulders when confronted with a “Black Swan”. They should have the decency to release the funding and unshackle the bureaucracy so that these young people have a chance in life. But then decency is something that has long deserted the Government, I’m sorry to say.
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