Brand UK: so last century

September 1, 2011

In November, I and thousands of students from Wales and Scotland travelled to London to march in solidarity with our English neighbours against the reckless actions of the Westminster government, safe in the knowledge that upon returning home our left-of-centre governments would protect Welsh- and Scottish-domiciled students.

In return for the solidarity we have shown with English students, we have received a kick in the teeth, perfectly encapsulated by Ann Mroz's comments ("In a terrible state o' chassis", Leader, 25 August).

Mroz accused the governments of Wales and Scotland of "navel-gazing" because they have the audacity to protect the people of Wales and Scotland from outrageous fee levels.

But if you look around Europe, what do you find? Even private universities in France charge only EUR6,000 (£5,300) a year and public institutions charge EUR169. In Germany, higher education is free in some states and in others it costs no more than EUR500 a semester. In Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Luxembourg, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, Slovenia and Sweden, home and European Union students don't pay tuition fees.

It is the UK government and the Establishment that have a separatist education policy: it is they who are navel-gazing, stuck as they are in the imperialist past.

The people of Wales and Scotland have moved on: we are progressive, outward-looking and should no longer confine ourselves within the insular "Brand UK" - progressives in England should join us.

Luke James, President, Swansea University Students' Union

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