Students on university campuses across the globe increasingly find themselves combating the marketisation of higher education. Their response has been a near universal call for quality, tuition free education within a fully liberated and decolonised education system, reflective of the society within which it exists.
A global approach to our collective action offers us a chance to unite under a shared goal. With extended solidarity across borders we can take part in the fight for a better future held by students everywhere.
The role of students is not to enrich their universities – it is the role of universities to enrich their students. Faced with attacks on the accessibility, affordability, and quality of higher education in nations across the globe, student solidarity has become imperative.
As students we support each other in our national fights, through our global struggle to #FundOurFuture – because as a global student community, we stand stronger as we stand together.
Student not consumer
Education is the pillar upon which modern society is built, playing a central role in social and economic development, democratic empowerment, and the advancement of the general well-being of society.
How education is seen in society, how it is funded, and how it is governed are tightly interlinked. Treating the student as consumer and higher education as commodity contradicts the fundamental social values we associate with higher education
Therefore, education should be regarded as an institution for advancing and passing on cultural and intellectual heritage. Education is a public good, a public responsibility, and should be publicly funded and supported.
In education systems around the world, we’re seeing:
- Increasing commodification and privatisation of our public education systems.
- The introduction or raising of tuition fees.
- The removal or decrease of grants and bursaries.
- The removal of the targeted support to those most in need.
- Cuts to public expenditure on education.
These threats are ever increasing and the awareness towards them should increase as well.
Governments and the public need to be aware that with the increasing commodification and commercialisation of education there will be an increase in competition within institutions, leading to a shift in focus from the quality of education and research to the quantity and rate of graduation, without thought toward students’ well-being.
A market approach to education treats the student as consumer and knowledge as commodity, the exchange value of which is crudely measured by comparison of the cost of acquiring a degree with the expected tax revenue from graduation to retirement. These are ever increasing threats, threats that are closely connected to cuts in public expenditure on education around the world.