- Tuesday, 11 September 2012
- Written by Matt Wood, UAL Marxists
As international students consider their options in the wake of the London Met fiasco, other institutions are licking their lips. With fees for international students even higher than the £9,000 that British students (not including Scottish students) pay many universities are keen to herd as many students as possible into their courses.
London Met fallout is ‘bonanza’ for other universities and private colleges
With higher education funding cut, competition for students is fierce, their fees helping to fill the hole in funding. Inevitably though, squeezing more students into fewer universities means that the quality of teaching will suffer through larger class sizes, less contact time with tutors, and a stretch on resources such as library books, IT and administrative facilities. As trade unions have repeatedly highlighted, one of the reasons for London Met’s failure to properly monitor the teaching of its students was that it was cutting staff and resources in the important student registry, which is also being privatised.
This sudden and artificial increase in demand for courses by the withdrawal of London Met’s visa-issuing status is, according to Bahram Bekhradnia, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, “a godsend” for the suppliers (other UK higher education institutions), if only a temporary one.
With institutions like the University of East London and the University of Bedfordshire chasing students, we have serious doubts as to whether their administrative resources can cope. This is just a case of university management teams chasing the money without a thought for the provision of actual teaching.
Regent’s College, a private university, is offering former London Met students places with a waiver on the difference in fees. Regent’s College charges more than London Met. Whether students will continue to receive these same discounts in subsequent years of study is doubtful.
The education sector is not immune to capitalism’s maladies, and just like in other areas of the economy, it resolves problems by storing up bigger contradictions for the future. This means a stratified higher education sector - more expensive, with lower quality teaching. It will not be a surprise if more universities follow London Met’s lead and cut corners on staffing and administration in order to make up the gap in funding.
All of this makes clear that capitalism’s crisis is infecting every aspect of society and that the only solution is an economy - and education system - organised along socialist lines.
Socialist Appeal applauds the solidarity British student unions have offered their international peers and supports the campaign of London Met students against deportations.