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article imageOp-Ed: Student austerity and free laptops

By Alexander Baron     Dec 16, 2013 in Politics
Why is it that American colleges can offer free laptops while in the UK and Europe generally the only thing on offer for students is yet more austerity?
That is not a rhetorical question, rather it is a perplexing one. It was reported here last week that some on-line colleges in the US are offering discounted or even free laptops. A little more research reveals this is the tip of a very pleasant iceberg, because while the UK has a website called The Student Assembly Against Austerity, in the US they have one called Online Schools Offering Laptops.
Yes, you say, but America is a much bigger country with more wealthy people and more natural resources. This is true, but unlike the UK it also has a massive military-industrial complex and more military bases throughout the world than even dedicated analysts can count. Even so, the UK finds far less money for education proportionally than America.
Earlier this month, Education Minister Elizabeth Truss announced a £1.1 million programme for developing the IT curriculum in primary schools. This is in addition to an existing £2 million until 2015. While any money spent on education is to be welcomed, these are hardly mind-blowing figures, especially when you consider that kids need computer literacy now like never before.
The Department For Education has its own YouTube channel, which currently has over 1600 videos. What though of higher education? Well, according to the Government's own figures, the higher education budget is facing a multi-billion pound shortfall during the next Parliament. There is also said to be a staggering £45.7 billion of student debt on the loan book, 35% of which will be written off as things stand, with this figure rising to as much as 40%.
Therein lies a simple solution, write it all off, and students will be able to buy their own laptops. After all, it is Christmas!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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