HOW DID THE 3E SCHOLARSHIP SCHEME START
University tuition fees is a topic that always plays a prominent role in UK elections. It is a hotly-debated issue of how universities should be funded. At the centre of the politicians' and policymakers' debate are the underprivileged and disadvantaged people at risk of being hindered by rising tuition fees. It has been predicted that universities could contribute in reinforcing class and race disparities. Therefore, we intend to engage and encourage universities to help reduce and erase the division in society by not allowing a student’s economic, social status, class, race or postcode determine how far a student can reach.
THE GRENFELL TOWER FIRE TRAGEDY
The horrific and devastating fire tragedy that occurred in the early hours of Wednesday, June the 14th, 2017 resulted in seventy-two people dead and destroyed the lives of hundreds of others, raised many questions about the inadequate response from some universities. Particularly, universities located in London, where some of the victims and survivors graduated and are currently enrolled.
The Grenfell Tower was a 24-storey West London residential. The burnt tower is positioned in one of Europe's wealthiest boroughs, The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBCK). The Grenfell Tower contained 127 flats, which was home to residents that survived the fire tragedy and others who did not. Some of the survivors have been housed; others are homeless still living in temporary accommodations. Residents of the Grenfell Tower represented over 20 countries. The direct effect of the fire reaches people living in countries as far as Bangladesh.
The following responses exemplify some of what has been stated by over 1000 current university students surveyed in 8 universities within and outside London:
· Know people who have been affected by The Grenfell fire tragedy.
· Went to school with a victim of the Grenfell Fire.
· Have siblings whose friends have lost his/her life because of the fire.
· Have friends on social media who shared live video footage of victims screaming for help, these voices still resonates with the student.
· Have seen footage of the burning tower and read about the victims and survivor's stories.
· Had the Grenfell fire tragedy appearing in their social media feeds on a daily basis.
· Live in council estates; they expressed the Grenfell Tower reminds them of where they live, as and they view themselves to relate to victims and survivors in many ways.
The comments have been gathered through weeks of petitioning and awareness raise campaign that started at Roehampton University and spread to 7 other Universities within and outside London. The petition proposed to board-members of all eight universities to Simply Do The Right Thing! By coming together and sign up The 3E Grenfell Scholarship Scheme by generously commit to offering the Grenfell tower survivors and Grenfell Walk category (A), the opportunities to be offered scholarship in the form of a complete tuition fee waiver to prospective students from the Grenfell category (A) starting from the academic year 2018 onward. So far, we are very pleased that Kingston University, University of Roehampton London, Canterbury Christ Church University, and the University for the Creative Arts have compassionately accepted and approved this proposal from a genuine humanitarian perspective. These universities have a formal partnership with the 3E Scholarship Scheme committed to offering scholarships for Grenfell category (A) as our Scheme proposed.
We are very grateful to these four compassionate universities, by showing the courage to lead on the ethical and moral duty of universities engagement with local issues that affect communities, university students and the wider UK society.
We are certain the community will benefit from these offered scholarship opportunities, which will potentially lead to positive contribution and advance equality within and beyond the Grenfell community social mobility.
THE COST OF A DEGREE
The 3E Scholarship Scheme initiative aims to counteract the effects of student experiences due to the tripling cost of obtaining a university degree in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Universities within these regions have been legitimised by the UK government to charge students up to a maximum of £9,250 in tuition fees since 2012.
A standard undergraduate degree in the UK study period is a minimum of three years. The payable loan covers a cost equivalent of up to three years of undergraduate study; meaning that the average student debt amounts to between £27,000 and £27,750, this does not include repayment of any maintenance loan. In addition to the tuition fee total amount, the maintenance loan leaves students with an average debt accruing between £45,000 and £50,000. The repayment loan helps meet essential needs such as living costs, in addition to study resources. The Master degree loan contributed further to the increase of the average university graduate's debt of £60,000 to £62,000.
The contrast between post-graduate employment salary, combined with the increase in living expenses and the (i.e.) salary of a university vice-chancellor who earned more than £468,000 in one year, has led some current university students to be highly concerned. This alarming revelation highlights that the motives of some universities have shifted from providing decent, accessible educational for the underprivileged and disadvantaged members of UK society to greed and profit-making.
Attainable education is essential to enable talented individuals from underprivileged and under-represented groups to pursue their higher education journey and have a better chance of progress through the educational ladder of success, which will ultimately help individuals to achieve their fullest potential, as well as the society.