Question time: Preston-style

7 Mar

ON FRIDAY evening I attended UCLan’s version of Question Time, which saw students fire questions at Preston’s MP and PPC’s.

A fistful of students attended, as well as Preston’s current MP Mark Hendrick, and the two Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPC) for Preston, Nerissa Warner-O’Neill and Mark Jewell, representing Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, respectively.

Students, if they put their votes to use, have the power to sway a vote, at least on a local scale.

Last month saw the launch of the NUS’ Vote For Students campaign, which urges candidates to reveal their stance on top-up fees and how they’ll help students if they are elected.

The event was very worthwhile, and more students should’ve attended, but despite UCLan Student Union President Beth Woodthorpe-Evans best efforts to recapture student pride, by claiming we are not ‘apathetic’, it was clear from the turn-out that this was the case.

The Student Union at UCLan do a fantastic job supporting students, and are playing a pivotal role in tackling fees, organising UCLan’s Town Takeover due to take place later this month.

The three candidates, in the final question of the evening, were asked to reveal exactly where they stand on fees.

Of the three MP’S, only two could make assurances of their stance, whilst Tory MP, Warner-O’Neill was left trying to convince students that the ‘independent’ review (that has no student representative) led by Lord Browne, a millionaire who has no grasp of the effects of the crippling debt students graduate with.

Labour MP Mark Hendrick promised students in January he would vote against fees, signing a pledge in front of the Student Affairs Committee at UCLan; whilst Lib Dem Mark Jewell told of how the introduction of top-up fees was one of the key reasons he joined politics in the first place.

It remains to be seen what will happen with student fees, but with student debt potentially doubling to £40,000 on graduation, I’m glad I’m part of a generation that will miss the worst of these irresponsible decisions.

With funding to Universities dropping, and fee’s rising, it begs the questions where is our money even going? Job cuts are expected, and yet student numbers rise.

I am of the impression that students should go to University with a goal in mind, not just for the hell of it.

I want to be a journalist, and as such I know that a qualification will put me in good stead to achieve this; but with courses in everything from Groundsmanship to Homeopathic medicine and everything in between, Universities need to take the brunt of responsibility, not the  future of this country’s bank balance.

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