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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Number 21, September 6, 1976.

Comment on Bursaries

Comment on Bursaries

Dear John,

I'd like to comment on Charles Crothers' letter on bursaries last Salient. He raises very important questions about the nature of bursaries and of universities, questions which as he suggests, should have had greater emphasis in the bursaries campaign. If I can briefly summarise them, his criticisms are:
1.Education is paid for by all members of the community, and as most (actually, nearly all) students are middle class, therefore the working class kids are getting a raw deal.
2.We should be investigating ways of making the entry to and the benefits from university study spread more equitably.

These points seem to stem especially from comments I made on the Radio Windy talkback show on bursaries. The context was a suggestion that student loans (which would have to paid back in later life) should be introduced. I am opposed to this, basically because overseas experience suggests that this reinforces class divisions in education, rather than reducing them. The argument I used was that as graduates get higher incomes and hence pay higher taxes, they do in fact repay society for the 'investment' in them. I think that attempts to look at education purely in money terms are very short-sighted - I used the argument only because I thought it would get through to the caller better. I can in fact bamboozle people with stats on this point if they really want me to.

Beyond this explanation, I quite agree with Charles' points on the inequalities of the education system. I also wholly agree that much more work needs to be done on them. However, in the interim I think one realistic thing that can be done is to have cost-of-living increases and an end to various anomalies in the bursary system to allow more students to come to these hallowed halls. Lastly, I think the base cause of discrimination in education comes from the capitalist nature of society - unless that is corrected, then true equality, in education or anywhere else, is impossible in my view. A view I tried to raise in a recent article in Salient - which hat had unfortunately no response.


Anthony Ward.