Wednesday night’s BBC 2 programme, Generation Gifted, followed six extremely bright, 13-year-old pupils from poor, disadvantaged backgrounds and the challenges they face to make the most of their abilities.
One passage of the programme featured Anne-Marie after she had returned from a visit to Cardiff University, inspired and enthused to go to university – only to discover the reality of the fees and debt she will incur if she pursues her dream.
In spite of her bravery and determination, her face as she finds out that her mother’s naive estimate of fees of ‘more than £500’ will in fact be over £9,000 – per year on a five-year course – paints an eloquent but desperately bleak picture of the reality of student debt under the Tory government:
As she tries to adjust to the huge shock, Anne-Marie demonstrates her intelligence by identifying a fundamental flaw in a system that heaps burdens on our poorest while allowing the wealthy an essentially free ride.
Observing that she can’t just go to school and be told that one day she’ll be Prime Minister, but sensing that some might indeed have such advantages, she comments:
If it’s like that then I think somebody needs to do something about the education system.
The Tories claim that tuition fees do not discourage children from poor families from going to university. But the fear of huge debts that will take decades to pay off is a major obstacle – and the reality of the debt will be a crippling psychological and financial burden to many.
Labour has promised to abolish tuition fees. The Tories responded by making a token reduction to the fees, but only Labour will end them.
Only Labour will invest in the futures and dreams of our young people, by removing the burden of tuition fees instead of crushing them under a mountain of debt.
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