Your correspondent says the Education Not for Sale campaign “caters to the desires of a relatively small number of people in the developed world,” and suggests we should focus on bigger issues like climate change or human rights (Education Not for Sale – a response, Anonymous, Comment, October 13).
But education is not just about satisfying the needs or wants of individuals. Education is a social good that shapes the values, attitudes and opinions of each generation of citizens. As such educational institutions play a major role in determining our collective future.
Your correspondent argues that those who can afford education should pay for it. This would be an improvement over the status quo, where those who can’t afford education don’t get it. But when education becomes a product to be bought and sold, democratic control of this powerful institution is taken away from us. Climate change and human rights are two of the research areas threatened by marketisation, not because people think they are unimportant but because the market discourages research that challenges dominant interests. For this reason the rich should contribute towards the cost of education through progressive taxation rather than tuition fees.
Our best chance of making a difference to the big issues is by taking control of our everyday lives. We should organise with staff to defend and extend our control of our university, as part of a wider movement against neo-liberal marketisation.