The age of inequality

March 20, 1998

MARIA Eagle MP promotes the principle of equality of access to higher education for everyone "regardless of social class and parental income", yet she supports the policies of a government that is intent on (a) imposing (means-tested) tuition fees and (b) abolishing student maintenance grants for all students (regardless of social class and parental income).

The proportion of students from working-class backgrounds gaining access to higher education has remained relatively stable since Ms Eagle earned a place at Oxford in 1979. However, the measures proposed by her party will have the effect of further marginalising those students, who in the 21st century will be denied the educational opportunities (free education at the point of entry and financial support) enjoyed by Ms Eagle and her colleagues in the late 20th century.

Students from poorer backgrounds will inevitably be deterred from entering higher education (even if they are exempt from tuition fees) when faced with the prospect of debts in the region of Pounds 10,000 on completion of their studies.

Joanne Doherty

Lloyd Road, Norwich

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