A letter to my home MP, two days before the vote on higher tuition fees

Dear Philip Hammond,

I grew up in your constituency, I've lived in Weybridge since I was
born, if you look at my address you'll probably recognise it as a
pretty privileged area, and indeed I've been incredibly lucky in my
life - I attended private school from the age of two, including one of
the best (and most expensive) boarding schools in the country. I
finished my undergraduate degree in English & American literature last
year at Warwick University and am currently studying for a masters,
which my parents are funding.

It's funny, because when I talk about student debt, a lot of people
write me off, saying because I come from a privileged background I
shouldn't concern myself with such issues. Indeed, the amount of debt I
am in is equivalent to one year of my high school fees. Most people
imagine that I can pay off this debt in a blink of an eye, because my
parents earn a decent amount. 

That couldn't be further from the truth. I fully intend to pay off
every penny of my debt myself; and I intend to pay back my parents for
my tuition fees this year, which are £4700. I also work part-time in
order to support myself. But if I'm being honest, I'm terrified. I'm
paying these loans back myself out of pride and because I don't want to
take any more from my parents who have already been so supportive, even
though I know I could probably ask for leniency from them. And I don't
want to move back home after I graduate, back to the comfort of
upper-middle class suburbia. That's not why I went to university, I
want to get a job and be independent. But until I pay back these debts,
I will never be independent. 

The point I want to make is this: there are thousands of kids who
aren't as lucky as I am, who haven't had the best education money can
buy, because their parents can't afford it. When I was in school, I
volunteered with an outreach programme, working with young girls who
were seriously bright but disadvantaged. They all spoke with such hope
about how badly they wanted to go to university. One girl said that her
mum told her that the furthest she would ever get in life was working
as a cashier at Morrisons. This was five years ago, and we were able to
tell these girls that it was going to be ok, that they could go to
university because university was a place for people from all walks of
life, and it didn't matter if they were rich or posh, they just had to
be commmitted in passionate.

Those girls will be 15 and 16 now, and I'm so, so angry, because I feel
like everything we told them was a lie. Because £9000 isn't a remotely
fathomable number to these girls, whose families are on benefits and
living on a shoe string. It's enough to put them off, regardless of
what the government is saying about social mobility and oppurtunities
for all. If I had known that I was going to pay £9000 a year for my
education at university level, I probably still would have gone, but it
would still have been a difficult decision, despite my privilege. For
kids who have had fewer chances in life, higher education is no longer
an option. It will simply be too expensive.

I could go on, but the vote is on thursday and I really need to
convince you now to vote against the rise in fees. Two Conservative MPs
have already said that they will stand against the proposals and this
is admirable. Please, for the sake of your constituents who don't live
in the beautiful suburbs where I am lucky to have been raised, for the
kids who lived in flats and council housing and aspire to a life
outside of a supermarket, please please take a stand against the
proposal to raise tuition fees.

I would like to request a personal meeting with you on thursday in
Portcullis house and would appreciate your response on this matter as
soon as possible.
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