Why I stood up for the students today…
Today twitter enabled me to time travel to be in several places at once. As i sat on my sofa i was also on the march in Leeds with @luluartist & @ebsnare and i was running down the streets of London with @PennyRed and hundreds of students…and when i did get off my arse to go in the freezing cold with @emmabob3 to Bradford to the demo twitter came with me. None of these events today have been covered by our local or national press in anything but a fleeting fashion but on twitter the news, the images, the video spread.
But i am still puzzled by something.. I am surrounded by people who have multiple degrees that they didn’t pay a penny for but they are quiet, they didn’t join the young people on the streets today and very few of them shouted their support on twitter or other social sites.
Why is that? Why have the people who regularly fill my stream kept quiet? Why are organisations full of graduates (especially arts graduates) not putting out statements of support for education funding?
It dawned on me the other week that my sister and i are the very first generation in our family to have gone to university. We both received maintenance grants, my sister is older than me and she could even claim housing benefit and sign on in the holidays! By the time i came to university 8 years later, there was still a maintenance grant (just) and student loans were just being introduced, there were no course fees.
I left university with debts of about £2700. I finally paid off the last instalment of my student loan about 6 months ago, 15 years after i graduated. Had my sister and i faced fees for our education of the magnitude that todays young people are facing i can honestly say i don’t think we would have been that first generation.
So when i hear that future students will be leaving with debts of £30k i wonder how on earth they will cope financially and i wonder how many families will stop encouraging their children into higher education.
Education benefits everyone full stop which is why i stood in the freezing cold today in centenary square with about 70 other people shouting “No ifs no buts no education cuts”.
No i didn’t find it easy or a natural thing to do, i’m not half as courageous as the women mentioned above but it was the right thing to do and if i can do it so can you.