The nights are drawing in, the end of term parties have begun, and if you’re lucky you might have woken up to a scattering of snow already; it’s undeniable that the festive season is well and truly upon us.
If you’re making your holiday wish list, spare some space for a few political must-haves; after all, that new album might be superb but wouldn’t it sound better without the burden of your student loan?
As the year comes to a close, here are four issues we won’t be forgetting this December.
It’s hard to forget about tuition fees when they’re costing you up to £9250 a year but here’s a reminder to keep fighting against fees nonetheless.
We must keep the opposition going. It is unsustainable to have so many people in debt for the rest of their lives, and after all, education benefits the whole of society not just the people who study.
There are numerous actions and demos happening on campuses across the country. Plus, with universities given permission to charge £2000 a year extra for “accelerated” two-year degree courses, its time to push back more than ever against the marketisation of education. There’s nothing more Scrooge-like than student debt.
Mental health services
Whatever festivity you’re celebrating this month, December is supposed to be the season of joy - but with the lack of mental health services for students, some will be left struggling.
Countless students find themselves waiting weeks for an appointment or counselling session, or find their condition is simply not recognised by their university. The Higher Education Policy Institute has called on universities to triple their spending on mental health provisions, a suggestion we should all heartily be raising a glass to.
Cost of living crisis
It’s not just tuition fees that keep on rising but rent, transport, and books - if it’s something you have to spend money on, chances are, the price has probably gone up.
Accommodation prices in particular have soared, with statistics last year showing a 25% increase in the cost of university halls over the past seven years. With rent peaking at levels even Rudolph couldn’t reach, students are taking action, with Sussex, Bristol, LSE and UCL amongst the universities carrying out rent strikes and taking legal action. Rather than watching another festive episode of Strictly or Eastenders, why not see how you can get involved with cost of living campaigns where you study?
Diverse campuses and curriculums
Universities and colleges might have reputations for being bastions of liberal politics, but often our campuses can be surprisingly stuck in the past.
Cambridge made the headlines this year as students called for a decolonialisation of their English Literature course, and similar campaigns have taken place across the country. As you relax before the start of Spring term, take stock of how diverse your course has been so far; if it seems clogged down in the status quo, add challenging that to your New Year’s resolutions.
Whilst you enjoy the season’s merriment, why not talk about the issues you care about with your friends or family over a hearty winter meal, or keep an eye on current affairs even whilst you’re swept up in the spirit of celebration?
Most of all, let’s keep on campaigning and caring in 2018 and beyond.
Hi, I'm Lucy and I'm a final year English Literature student at the University of Sussex. Throughout my time at university I've been involved in student societies and media, and am especially interested in politics and activism on campus. I think it's crucial that students and young people have their voices heard in current affairs. Besides trying to change the world, I also love reading, cooking and going for a chilly swim on Brighton beach.