Owen Jones: "Make your voice heard. Make the powerful fear you."
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After almost a decade of running, liberal arts and music festival Latitude is the place to firmly pitch your tent if intellectual socialism and left-wing debates about the future of the Labour party are your idea of a break between seeing Noel Gallagher, riding on gondolas or dining from one of the few too many vegan vans. At the centre point of the opening night’s packed schedule, between cabaret and comedy, left-wing political columnist for the Guardian and newly the New Statesman, Owen Jones, joined Caroline Crampton, Suzanne Moore and Georgia Gould to discuss the “Politics of Hope.” To be hopeful and a student in 2015 is a task proving to be a little harder than imagined, with Osbourne’s 2015 Budget announcing that student maintenance grants will be turned into maintenance loans, meaning those who borrow more money will end up having to pay back more. The change will hugely affect poorer students and deter working class young people from becoming students. I speak to Jones, the author of Chavs and The Establishment, on how students can remain hopeful in a time of turmoil. In the fear that future students will flick through university prospectuses as if they were holiday brochures, looking for the cheapest universities instead of the ones that suit them the most, Owen explains how “things are happening through marketisation instead of broadening academic choice.” He continues: “We’ve seen if you compare England with Scotland, where they’ve introduced the tuition fee system and find a broader range of subjects, because if you do it off the base of a market it’ll be on the basis of courses that are less subscribed being cancelled. You get this limiting of choice and this is ironic. The whole point of our university system is that it should be seen as a social good, not a consumer good, which is what’s happening. We as society rely on university students.” Jones tells me, backstage at the literary arena cradling a hot drink, that the university system isn’t based off of a social good anymore, explaining how the individual consumer is benefiting alone, affecting poorer students.
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