Why Mums And Dads Should March Against University Fees

30/03/2011 11:13 | Updated 22 May 2015

Protest against university feesThere's going to be a vote on student university fees in parliament before Christmas. No one quite knows yet, according to the National Union of Students, exactly what MPs will be voting on (allowing universities to charge up to £9,000 a year, or the whole package of measures based on the Browne Review. But one thing's certain: there will be a lot of students protesting. And this time I'm going to be there too.

I might even design a placard. It might say something quite rude, like 'Very, very cross'.

Because parents have been left out of the debate for far too long. We've watched as the Lib Dems squirmed. An end to tuition fees! they shouted before the election. Oh, sorry, changed our minds! they're saying now (with a few notable exceptions). Nick Clegg keeps saying this U-turn is 'difficult'. Too right it is.

So parents have watched all these politicians looking pained and sorry, but no one's asked us what we think about our son or daughter leaving university with a debt of £40,000. (And that's a pretty conservative estimate.) Imagine owing all that money at the age of 21.

'Hey, Mum, I'm thinking of taking out a massively large loan.'

'What for?'

'It might help me get a job one day.'

'Are you sure?'


I don't care what the new proposals say about the arrangements for paying all that money back. What I'm worried about is what 21-year-olds will feel about having that huge great millstone round their necks. It's like starting a marathon with a slab of granite strapped to each foot. It's like going for a swim fully clothed with a bulging rucksack tied to your back. Imagine setting out on your working life owing that much. I can't imagine any of my three teenagers wanting to take on a mortgage on top of their student debt. A mortgage isn't, obviously, the ultimate route to happiness, but you do hope that, at some point, your children will be able to afford to move out of the family home. I love them dearly, but the sofa just isn't big enough.

No one's asked me, either, what I think about the Government deciding to slash the higher education budget by" style="border: medium none; overflow: hidden; width: 450px; height: 80px;">

What do you think? Should parents be campaigning alongside students?


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