On the 21st of November, students will once again march in London to protest at education cuts and reforms. Royal Holloway Feminism Society will be marching against the devastating impact of this government's education policy – and of wider austerity measures - on women.
Research has shown that women will bear the brunt of government cuts, with a report finding that 73% of the savings proposed in the 2011 budget will come from women. Education reforms will have a number specific negative effects on women students. The cutting of Educational Maintenance Allowance and the introduction of fees for further education for students over the age of 24 will negatively impact women who wish to return to education, for example after having children. The gender pay gap means that women will take longer to repay loans taken out for further and higher education. The most drastic cuts to higher education funding have been made to the arts and humanities, subjects which are studied by greater numbers of women than men. Student parents will be particularly hard hit: the increase in fees, combined with cuts to benefits, will seriously affect mothers in education – the NUS Women's Campaign found that 78% of student parents claimed some kind of benefit in order for them to be able to study. There is concern that reductions in government funding to higher education institutes may lead to institutions making savings by services, such as student welfare services and childcare facilities, which are relied upon by student parents. Wider cuts to public services will leave women “filling the gaps” in caring for children and relatives, leaving them much less able to pursue education.
We'll be marching on November 21st – will you?