Essay on Tuition Fees For Higher Education

Essay on Tuition Fees For Higher Education

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The motion argues that the introduction of tuition fees for higher education has not, in fact, fulfilled its aim of reducing social inequality and exclusion by widening participation. Within higher education, this was underpinned by the ideology of equality of opportunity and actioned purely by increasing available places. My own positionality has been constructed from public discourses relevant to both students and their parents in addition to academic research and theory. In short, I support the motion. I, too, believe that the introduction of tuition fees may have facilitated an increase in the number of students but that does not necessarily mean participation has been widened.

The key to my perspective is a constructivist understanding of our society, with the over-arching paradigm that no concept exists in isolation. Found in socio-political theory from key people like Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu and Norman Fairclough, this perspective is widely used as a framework for educational research. (Lane 2015; Platt 2011; Reay 2004; Ball 2003) Thus, the contextual nature of socio-political educational issues underpins my present position on the subject of widening participation in higher education.

When deciding on my positionality and through reflective practice, I recognised that I have a distinct view on educational issues, especially those concerned with inequalities and social justice, one that uses a conceptual lens heavily influenced by my personal narrative and political leaning. Being aware of this may be recognised as raising self-critical authenticity to my current opinion and allows me to acknowledge the role of unconscious bias in its formation. (Stremlau 2002)

With this in mind, and while I acknowledge there...


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...ll held in the highest regard, continuing to be inculcated in my socialist family. I remember the buzz of expectation on that May evening, as I voted for ‘education, education, education’, nineteen years ago. I was one of millions. Simon Hoggart (cited in Fairclough, 2000) admits he was another, "carried along helplessly in Tony Blair 's rhetorical stream of consciousness". (Fairclough 2000, p.back page)
I do not believe the reality has lived up to the promise inferred through the language of Tony Blair’s experimental ‘Third Way’, higher education still belongs to the middle and upper classes. (Anon 1997; Ball 2006; Fairclough 2000)
If research is used as the preferred form of authentic information regarding the true picture of current higher education, it is quite clear in my opinion, that the motion holds fast, increased numbers do not mean widening participation.

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