This week, the government announced the immediate privatisation of £890m of student debt dating from between 1990 and 1998. The debt was sold to a consortium of private companies at under one-fifth of its value, but in reality these moves go far beyond the economically unsustainable nature of a credit-fuelled higher education system. They are part of a series of planned student debt sell-offs, and a concerted attempt to irreversibly alter how universities are funded and how this generation relates to education and work.
Since 2010, the coalition government has pursued an increasingly open policy of ending universities as a public service. Tuition fees have tripled and public money has been withdrawn – creating a multi-tiered university system competing with itself for who can attract the most lucrative students and gain the most research funding. Meanwhile, the idea of an accessible university system for all is being buried by rising living costs and cuts to student support, both to bursaries and in the scrapping of the education maintenance allowance (EMA).