NI: Scrap fees in the FE Colleges

STUDENTS OVER the age of 18 in Belfast and other Further Education Colleges have to pay as much as £1,000 a semester for A-levels and GCSEs. The Socialist spoke to Socialist Youth member Colm Smyth, an A-level student in Belfast Metropolitan College, about crippling effect of fees on students in colleges.

STUDENTS OVER the age of 18 in Belfast and other Further Education Colleges have to pay as much as £1,000 a semester for A-levels and GCSEs. The Socialist spoke to Socialist Youth member Colm Smyth, an A-level student in Belfast Metropolitan College, about crippling effect of fees on students in colleges.

“With many young people losing their jobs, many will look to education as an alternative. However fees can cut off working class students. If you are over 18, then you have to pay exam fees. This puts a lot of pressure on students to get it right the first time because they might not be able to afford it the next time.

“I am doing 3 A-levels and, at a cost of £330 each, this amounts to £990 a year. This means I have to work a part-time job as well as studying to pay my fees, meaning I have less time to work on my study.

“This is all before I go to university where I could be paying fees of £5-10,000 a year. Socialist Youth are fighting for free education. The extortionate fees being demanded of students are forcing them out of education and into low paid jobs or the dole. We need a real fight involving students and teachers to abolish the fees and fight for a properly funded education system.”

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We demand a future! 

By Paddy Meehan, Socialist Youth 

IN NOVEMBER, it was announced that 15% of young people were officially unemployed. This figure, which does not include those on training schemes, will have undoubtedly risen since then with the massacre of job losses tearing through the retail sector. This summer, thousands of school and university students will be leaving education to look for work that simply isn’t there. Every week, announcements of factory and retail closures like Zavvi and Woolworths are dumping hundreds of young people onto the dole.