Higher Education is once again being torn apart and re-designed for the capitalist will to produce a production line of corporate sector robots ready to do the bidding of their lord and master ‘Das Capital’. Yet, as this doomsday situation approaches, students are not taking it lying down as they turn encampments made to protest war crimes into makeshift campuses ready to produce the revolutionaries of tomorrow. 

The past few months have seen universities worldwide challenged by a single unifying factor – Palestine. From Columbia University in New York all the way to my hometown of Cardiff, the movement has taken off in a way those supporting the Israeli Government’s illegal war could not have predicted. 

The encampments have become a global movement and a form of protest that is not only critical of the treatment of Palestine by Israel and those complicit within the international community. It has evolved to become something more, a movement led by a generation who seek to transform university into what it should be – a service for the students.

It’s long been recognised by those who study systems of learning that when you are in control of education, you control the masses. Segregating education into private and state systems creates class boundaries. Such a system works only if the aim is to produce generations of stone-cold Etonians with generational wealth backing them into positions of power.

This arrangement drives out voices seeking progress and rules over a country of GCSE dropouts, whose educational failures cannot be blamed on them. Instead, it is the private school elite who hoard knowledge as the recognisable power it is. By maintaining their exclusive hold on education, they perpetuate a cycle of inequality. This ensures their continued dominance and the suppression of others. Thus, society remains divided by educational privilege.

Education should not be a privilege, however, but should be a right. This, some of you may be aware, has been the crux of many of my arguments surrounding education and the socialist movement in past articles. True equality cannot begin until the working class is given access to the same resources that are provided practically from birth for those born with enough wealth that they may as well come out of the womb with a monocle over their eye and a glass of brandy in their right hand. 

We need change – we must have change. And yet the change that is truly needed is not being promised by any of the major parties in the coming election. This is made abundantly clear from reading the manifestos of the two major parties – Labour and Conservative 

The current ruling party, and the one Rishi Sunak is likely to lead into their first lost election in nearly two decades, has all but made it clear that, like many other services, they intend to turn universities into a profit scheme by cutting down the number of ‘poor quality’ university degrees and replacing them with apprenticeships. One doesn’t have to stretch the imagination far to imagine what is considered “poor quality” to a capitalist. 

Meanwhile Labour has made a different commitment to universities – to support ‘spinout’ R&D technologies in higher education. It seems Starmer isn’t just out of touch, he’s not even playing the same game, as the manifesto continues into the realms of education and out of the realm of the real world. Outlandish statements seem to be the pepper on this burnt meal, serving absolutely ridiculously silly ideas such as children arriving at primary school – PRIMARY SCHOOL – ‘not prepared to learn’. 

While the manifesto does touch on the state of higher education being in ‘crisis’, much like their siblings in blue (police and Tory) there isn’t a single sign of a solitary brain cell with a lick of sense present. 

It seems as though in this general election whichever major party wins, students will be the losers. Seemingly at least, in actuality I believe the students who will suffer tomorrow are already fighting today. One only has to go down to your local encampment. 

You won’t just find third years dodging exams whilst chilling with the other undergrads in a makeshift campground. You’ll find fully fleshed out operations where these students have crafted their own syllabuses and arranged their own reading materials. In short, they’ve taken the education out of higher education – ‘higher’ in this case spelt the corporate way, ‘hire’.

Protesting the crimes of the Israeli government and the complicity of universities and the West isn’t the only thing that’s happening in your local unis’ backyards. What I’ve witnessed has been intense and highly self-aware lectures not just on the history of Palestine but on the influence of colonialism.

These late tween and early twenty-somethings have made an international movement based on more than communication and BDS, but on bringing in guest speakers and furthering their own knowledge by reading books from various authors covering subjects as broad as ‘colonialism to specific subjects such as ‘Palestine’.  

Whilst the infastructure might be a little low for a fully-fledged educational programme, there are clear signs here that the future of higher education is in the right hands. Not by those in power, but by those it is supposed to serve. 

I look forward to the next general election to see just how education changes at the university level. Not because I believe Starmer or Sunak care, but because I can see that the students do care. 

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