It’s results day for me on Thursday. This means that I will find out whether or not I have gotten into university after two years of hard work. I will be one of many thousands ripping open envelopes at college or school, or even checking UCAS online. 2012 is the year of the fee rise, and this has radically changed access to university.
The government has created a two tier system when it comes to higher education. AAB students in the UK are gold dust and universities tout with gold-plated scholarships, bursaries and extra benefits for these students. Bristol has even opened up 600 more places for AAB students. Some universities have even offered freebies like computers and laptops to lure students. Controls that were in place in the past have been lifted for high competition for these students. Universities are allowed to admit more students to their establishment without being penalised by the government financially, therefore squeezing in more students to degree courses and earning more money. Those without AAB represent a liability to universities and may be forced into undersubscribed courses because the leniency of previous years just doesn’t exist anymore. You could be on the cusp of the AAB and fallen by just a few percent and in previous years could have gotten in. This isn’t the case now. On the other hand, International students are forced to pay an extortionate amount of money to gain entry, a slap in the face considering the UK’s treatment of said students when it comes to institutions like UKBA. Those who do not have AAB will encounter a much harder deal than their predecessors owing to new government regulations.
This will be first year group to face higher tuition fees of up to £9,000 per year. There’s a 50,000 overall student drop in applications since the fees trebled last year. Despite this, there are still much more applicants than places because there are 20,000 less university places this year. Overall, it’s an overall 8.9% drop, but the drops in different parts of the UK was different.The biggest drop was in England. There was a 10% drop in England, but only a 3% drop in Wales. Wales can partly be attributed to the Welsh Government’s pledge to pay any fees over £9000 for any Welsh student in university. In terms of age, the biggest drop has been with mature students.
The rise in fees will hit languages students especially hard. I say this as a languages student. Any drop in a pool of applicants means that somewhere down the line, our dangerously small group of languages students is shrinking even more. We shrink at 14 in England because it’s not compulsory to take a language and we shrink across the board at 16 when choosing A Levels e.g. there were just 4 people in my A Level French class. Departments left, right and centre and being cut. Like sciences, there are never enough languages students because it’s underfunded, yet the employment sector each year publishes that UK graduates miss out on jobs because of the UK’s tradition of monolingualism and a severe lack of modern foreign language graduates. Unlike sciences, languages don’t really get any funding. It’s the same story with humanities and social sciences in the UK. Just take a look at scholarships available at any top uni in the UK and you’ll see where the money is.
That’s not to say it’s a level playing field, that every student has the same access to get AAB at A Level. Not every student has the same access to education. Fee paying private schools manage to send 65% of all of their students to the top third of universities. This is compared with state schools who manage to send just 25% of their students to these top universities. Those who are from free paying private school backgrounds have access to this special education that has better resources, smaller classes and more tailored learning styles when state schools don’t have this. The rich are at an advantage in sending their children to school. For example, in August 2011, 50.8% of all A Levels at private schools were awarded with an A grade, whereas this dropped to 20% at state comprehensives. There is a huge disparity between the quality of education and the role of wealth in a child’s education. If last year was bad with the rush for people to gain entry to university before the fee rise, this year’s worse for a whole different set of reasons.
I’m from an area with a very low progression rate to university. If I get there this September, I’ll be the first female and the first person ever in my Dad’s family to go to university, and the first person ever in my Mum’s family to go to university not as a mature student with children. I’m aware of the hierarchies at place and the words of money in securing top university places, of extra tuition, of being able to afford higher fees, of the governments twisting of curve ball marking and what this means for young people today and how for most A Level students, we aren’t at an advantage in playing the university game. We talk of social mobility, yet price regular students out of university. The government talks of paying back only a bit, only when you’ve earned a certain amount, but no average working class 18 year old wants to walk out with nearly forty grand (if not more) of debt. Young people who, just like me, are nervous about Thursday and about this prospect of debt. And we’re supposed to pay nine grand for this privilege after sailing through a distorted high school and further education system to jump through more hoops to get to a warped university system.
University? It’s pot luck according to your background, your wealth, how good your school/college is, the money your parents have and the colour of your skin. It’s a skewed system. University in Autumn 2012 will largely be a gold plated finishing school for the elite.
“if you want your religious headscarf then you shouldn’t protest” says Houston cop badge number 3362 as she rips off my hijab in public
So I have just gotten back from Houston protesting along side janitors who clean the offices of the world’s wealthiest companies for poverty wages. We were doing peaceful civil disobedience by sitting in an intersection to bring attention to the issue, we complied and were respectful when we were arrested.
Initially as I was processed in the gym two cops were talking to me. Upon learning I was Muslim and wore my headscarf for religious reasons [one cop actually wrote in my paperwork (headscarf religious reasons) and verbally confirmed that she wrote it down so people would know and I wouldn’t be bothered about it]. The other cop next to her asked me if I was fasting for Ramadan and I replied no and inquired how he knew it was Ramadan. He said it was because they received a diversity training.
After I was done I took five step to the side where they held the other female prisoners and where a female cop badge number 3362 started to frisk me and suddenly started taking off my scarf. This is the dialogue to the best of my memory there were plenty of protestors with me when this happened.
“Whoa, whoa, wait a second I wear my scarf for religious reasons, can’t you just feel my hair through it?” I said as I backed into the wall.
“No. If you want your religious headscarf then you shouldn’t protest,” she said as I was turned around pushed into the wall by her grabbing my neck and ripping my headscarf off in front of everyone. Later another jailer would say the exact same thing when they took my headscarf away for the entirety of being incarcerated.
The others were yelling at her to stop and cops started yelling at them telling them “She’s going to get charged!”
“You wouldn’t do this to a nun,” I told her and another cop who was looking at me as she violently frisked me. And I have been frisked, groped and padded down many a time via TSA since I am Muslim while flying.
My clothes were ajar and were placed immodestly around my hips. Later others would help me fix it as our hands were restrained behind our backs.
“It’s just procedure,” the cop looking on said to me.
“God gave you free will and no one can take that from you,” I replied.
She threw the scarf back on my head covering my face until the cop looking on told her to fix it and then it was covering my eyes.
Afterward I approached her seeing that she was upset. “Look, I just want to talk civilly with you about what just happened and since I can tell you are upset.”
She got defensive and started talking about procedure. “I understand it’s procedure. See, many faiths and cultures believe in covering the head. You taking off my scarf in public like that is like taking off my shirt in public.”
She replied that I could have been hiding a gun. I looked at her in disbelief. My scarf is made up of a light material and my hair is short. She ordered me to sit down and leave her alone.
Initially I felt upset and mad. But then I felt bad for her. I know system is to dehumanize and humiliate the people who don’t compile with the law but after thinking a long time I realized that when you treat others like beasts you become a beast. But being treated like a beast doesn’t mean I am one, I still have a choice, I can still reflect on the example of my Prophet during this holy Ramadan, I still can cultivate compassion and rise above.
This is completely unacceptable behaviour and I hope whatever cop did that gets fired. I hope all cops get fired. That’s another story, though.
The Save Maryam campaign has been unleashed. Its origin lays in a Youtube video that describes the scenario of a young Indonesian woman, Maryam. Maryam lives in Indonesia, which has the largest number of Muslim citizens in the world. 2 million of them a year are converting to Christianity. If it grows at the current rate, by the mid 2050s, Indoesnia will no longer be a Muslim majority country. Maryam is heralded as a voice of a generation, and explores her issues. For every time Maryam experiences a problem, it is the Christian people who are there on standby providing support, as opposed to the Muslim. This leads Maryam to consider converting to Christianity. The video attributes this to a poor teaching of Islam in Indonesia, a lack of Muslim support networks and seeks to raise money to reinstate a feeling of Islam in its young people through better teaching of Islam and young Muslim TV channels.
It asks viewers to help raise $2 million for the ‘Save Maryam’ campaign. The video already has 300,000 or so views. The video is so Islamic that no music was used in it.
It’s a Muslim outreach campaign, aimed at ‘Muslims across the world’ are aware of the ‘problem’ in Indonesia. It wants to utilise social media to make the message widespread to raise money to save Muslim souls from Christianity.
With a production value reminiscent of Kony 2012, the Save Maryam campaign doesn’t smell too great. One should note that its launch during Ramadan plays on Muslims in a similar way that Christmas advertisements hit Christians. It’s a manipulative campaign that demonises Christianity and manipulates Muslims into paying it as da’wah, a charitable act. Given the large minority of Christianity in Indonesia, this video stirs up anti Christian sentiment, Islamophobes will have a field day with this video and lots of people will be standing at the sides thinking “What the fuck?”
Any official state religion is ridiculous. Anyone preventing people from excercising religious freedom is ridiculous. Any campaign whose grounding is to save people from conversion or leaving a religion is freaky. When Scientology stages ‘interventions’ to save people from leaving, it’s freaky, when a bunch of people in Indonesia do it, they expect donations. People should be free to worship, covert and leave any religion that they please. No organisation has to save souls; it’s a knee jerk reaction to modernisation. If this video took place in the UK, it would be traditional Church in England Christians trying to stop conversion to other religions, and that, too, would be equally unacceptable.
To put it simply, it’s the Muslim Kony 2012. Unfortunately, people bought into the Kony 2012 Bullshit, thus people are going to buy into this bullshit. The western media is going to have an absolute field-day.