‘What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.’
The great idea. The great idea doesn’t last a week. The great idea has been fought for by generations for as long as it takes. As long as it takes.
The idea that students past are not required to work until the end of their careers in order to pay off a loan they signed up for a lifetime ago. The idea that students present are not required to question whether they are constantly getting value for money – should this be the way Higher Education is? The idea that students-to-be are not dissuaded from the wonders a university education can work, be it academic, interpersonal, business or other skills attained only through a will to sample everything that is on offer to you whilst you are still at university.
This is why we’re not done here yet. This is why we must continue the fight to prevent privatization of the Student Loan book, our Student Loan book now and forever. We will not be done until, at the very least, the Government throws out the proposed sale due to the long term economic sense it fails to make. The current valuation of the 14 years-worth of loans stands at a meagre £10 billion – I’m no economist, but this is woefully short of what the Treasury can recuperate from loan repayments now and in the future.
This is bigger than just Southampton. This is about a change that everyone can get involved with. No matter your age, occupation, sexual orientation, race, political persuasion; our cause is universal.
Scores and scores of students, like you, around the country fear for their long-term financial prospects were a sale like this to go through. #SoActWeek, the campaign underpinning this student-led movement, initially highlighted fears linked to the idea that the low interest rates we currently pay on our loans could be hiked through the roof; but this is not our only concern. The lack of long term economic sense this proposal makes is another. Anyone I have spoken to, publicly or privately, has concurred with this simple truth. It is not in the best long-term interests of the state to a) sell off the Student Loan Book to the private sector b) sell it at such a loss – the entirety of the 1998-2012 Loan Book has been estimated to generate £10bn in revenue.
I am an Oceanography student; I don’t study International Relations or Economics. But that does not mean that I don’t have powerful connections with information they are willing to share with me. These friends are some of the most powerful connections we, as human beings, can forge. Friends, or at least the ones I hold close, will travel with me through this life by my side. We have a mutually shared interest and respect for each other’s minds, bodies and souls. These are the people I will enjoy the smaller things in life with – today, after graduation, in 10 years time – and it is they, along with my wonderfully supportive family, that will carry me through to my last breath. These people will, hopefully, share the same feelings on issues like these; discuss the implications, discuss the motives, discuss the outcomes of the proposed sale.
The University of Southampton motto is Strenuis Ardua Cedunt; Adversity Yields To Endeavour. Adversity – a difficult or unpleasant situation. Endeavour – try hard to do or achieve something. I am not naïve enough to think that the modern day student is the only scapegoat, the only group that is having difficult decisions being forced upon it. As much as one can only ever wholly, truthfully, speak on one’s one behalf, I say this: we are aware of the wider economic turmoil that continues to grip the UK economy – with this comes, obviously, decisions that nobody would want to make. Somebody has to take the flak. Someone has to cut back. Benefits stripped, allowances decreased and every cut pushes more and more of the population to the edge.
We are, simultaneously, aware of the fact that the current Coalition government is gearing up for the 2015 General Election. I urge you to go away and think about how little sense the sale of the Student Loan Book makes to the future economic health of Treasury.
Never stop fighting for what you believe in. Martin Luther King didn’t. Rosa Parks didn’t. Rita O’Grady didn’t. Don’t give up. Don’t settle. Don’t feel that your voice, so seemingly meagre, cannot be mighty.
For everyone else, I reference an excerpt from a speech given by J.K. Rowling at the Harvard Commencement Ceremony in 2008, “Those who choose not to empathise, create real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.”
Ben Hansen Hicks is the co-chair of #SoActWeek.
To find out more about their events and how to volunteer, sign up to their mailing list at http://bit.ly/SoActWeekMailingList
Sign the Petition here: bit.ly/SoActWeek