The Cut the Student Protests forgot

Yesterday we saw violent protests against the Coalition’s enormous increase in tuition fees.  Who, I ask you, will be able to afford £9000 a year in fees alone?  Of course, the very rich – how silly of me.  The 26 millionaires in the Coalition Cabinet probably spend that before breakfast at least once a week.

Meanwhile it’s not quite like that on planet Earth.  Young people are concerned they will either miss out on university or be saddled with so much debt their lives will be irrevocably tarnished. While I would never condone violence, I do understand that the students’ have very serious concerns.

I have recently come across another example of the Coalition’s unthinking devastation in education.

Since the start of the last century, young Britons have been travelling abroad to undertake teaching in a foreign school as part of the British Council Assistantship scheme. With radically improved language skills, a taste of foreign culture, and the chance to try teaching all on offer, it is not hard to see why thousands seek a place on the programme each year.

Next year, however, recruitment will not go ahead; the scheme has fallen victim to the Coalition’s ‘stringency’ measures. It seems that the teaching programme, which has manifest cultural and economic benefits, has been deemed unworthy of the £750,000 required to run it.

To me, this decision seems bizarre, an example of unthinking and myopic cost-cutting, and another display of disregard for the young. Facilitating increased mobility and cross-cultural exchange is demonstrably cost-efficient, improving job prospects by enabling young people to look beyond both language barriers and national borders when searching for training and has job opportunities. 

Happily, the EU has recognised the huge gains to be made from such a strategy and has taken steps to encourage enhanced student and trainee mobility through the new ‘Youth on the Move’ initiative. I just hope that the outcry from past beneficiaries and future hopefuls will be enough to push the UK Government towards the same realisation.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Cut the Student Protests forgot

  1. Daniel Oxley

    The shortfall in the British Council’s budget for the teaching programme could be made up by getting rid of the unwanted ‘free’ publication by Newham Council of its Newham Mag.

    We council tax payers in Newham pay exactly the same amount for its production – (£750,000 excluding delivery) as the amount needed by the students. The magazine is just propaganda for the Mayor, Sir Robin Wales. Last year one issue had ten photographs of him.

    At a time like this when public services are being cut it is crazy to waste money on this publication. I have never heard anything positive about it apart from one of the councillors. If there are people who really want to read it, they can see it in the online version. It could possibly be sent on request only to those who do not have internet connections rather than delivering it to every household.