I feel privileged that through my blog I have connected with people from all walks of life across the world. I have had great conversations and been asked many challenging questions. My thanks to everyone who has shared their thoughts and inspirations with me this year and contributed guest posts. I will continue to provide an independent voice promoting excellence in social care and children’s services in 2011. With the urgent need for closer working between health and care I am pleased to share the thoughts of a student nurse on #demo2010.
“I have never felt moved to write an article about anything before but watching the recent developments with the student protests I felt the overwhelming need to write something more than the 140 characters that twitter allows.
I am a student, but before you back away in fear I would like to point out that I am not a “normal” student. I am a student nurse. I tweet under the guise of @justa2ndyear, though that is a relatively new venture for me.
As a student nurse I differ from other students in many ways, like my colleagues in social work; teaching or medicine, I have a longer academic year but I also (whispers) have my tuition fee’s paid for me AND I receive a bursary. Not that the bursary comes close to covering the cost of living for myself, my husband and my 2 children. In fact I also do regular night shifts and frequently will do the required 30 hours on placement (earning the equivalent of £4.29per hour from NHS Bursaries) and then between 12-36 hours night shift work too. This is before I even attempt the academic work or spend time with my family.
Admittedly, I am probably viewed as a bit of a “tuition fee anti-Christ”, I do not have to worry about finding £3,375 a year to fund my studies, let alone the £9,000 proposed by the current government. The reason I support the protests is not for me but for my son. He is 12 and that means in 6 years he will be university age.
Unfortunately for him I am training to be a nurse in a country that has yet to value its key workers. Where bankers and footballers earn more in a week than nurses and teachers do in a year. This means that if i’m very lucky, when he goes to university in 6 years, I may be earning £34,189 (that is if i reach the top of band 6 – which is highly unlikely given the current spending freeze within the NHS), so best case scenario means that his tuition fee’s will equal 26% of my gross annual wage. The more likely scenario is that I will be middle of band 5, earning about £24, 554 which would mean paying about 36% on tuition fee’s. Lets hope those lottery numbers come up soon.
I come from a family where education is highly valued. Higher education was, for both of my parents, a privilege gained through hard work rather than money. I hope I have instilled in my son the same sense of drive and ambition that my parents gave me. The belief that if you work hard you can achieve. I would hate to have to tell my son that despite his hard work (he is currently fourth overall in his year) I cannot afford to send him to university.
It is for this reason that I fully support the actions of many students, including those who were in occupation at University College London (who can be followed on twitter @ucloccupation). I firmly believe we have a right to protest against issues we believe are wrong. If we didn’t it would all be a bit too Orwell ’1984′ for my liking.
However, I watched in horror the coverage of the protests and the actions of a few that have tainted the message of so many. I appreciate that the media present the story in a way that will maximise sales and that one must take a balanced view of what is reported. However, sometimes you just cant argue with the evidence.
The photograph of David Gilmour’s (of Pink Floyd fame) son Charlie swinging from the Cenotaph on a union jack sealed the deal in terms of the nations feelings towards the students cause. And thats without even mentioning all the other vandalism and destruction that was caused, all in the name of a “demonstration”.
What upsets me the most with all this is the total lack of thought demonstrated by these young people. I’m sure it didn’t even cross their minds that some of the people named on that memorial were the same age, if not younger, than they were when they died fighting for the freedom they so easily abused.
I believe education should be available for those who work hard and are capable of achieving, not just those who can afford it. However, in a time of economic crisis when cuts have to be made, should we even be considering offering any support to those who feel that violence and destruction is an appropriate way to behave?”