Accent Discrimination

Ey up ducks. Thought I’d write abaat summat close to mi ‘art today. I sometimes have’ta watch mi’sen when am blabberin, cos me accent’s dead common, like. Whether it’s yorn or theirn or me’own, we all av one. But does it mek a difference, or amma just bein a mardy arse? Alrate?

I’ve always done well academically. I was the first person in my family to go to university, and I graduated with flying colours. I have always done what was asked of me in the education system, and I was always told, “If you do well in this test and that test, and keep working hard, you’ll end up with a good job.” It was a constant promise.

Promise broken.

My qualifications are just pieces of paper to me now, and all the thugs I went to school with, who didn’t work hard, are in a better position than me because they started work sooner, dropping out of school at 16.

But since leaving university, I’ve had opportunities to get high-powered, well-paid jobs. For example, I was shortlisted to work as an Intelligence Officer for MI5 (ssshhhhhh, don’t tell anyone!). There are a few other interviews I’ve been invited to down south, based on my written application forms and online examinations. However, when I get there I’m usually surrounded by people speaking the Queen’s English, the same as the interviewer, and I feel out of place.

Maybe that’s my problem (although I didn’t get any of those good jobs, and I’m still stuck doing boring, repetitive work for the minimum wage, despite have more about me than 99% of rich bankers).

ITV did a programme about accent discrimination. Here is a quote from the reporter on that programme, from the ITV website:

“The most upsetting moment for me making this film was when some Middlesbrough children confessed to me that they were ashamed of their accents.

Shockingly, they told me they believed their accents would affect their life chances – for the worse.

“We sound right scruffy like,” said young one boy in his football kit. “Not like you: posh. We won’t be able to get proper jobs,” he told me.

Unfortunately – as our Tonight programme shows – he may be right.”

Source: http://www.itv.com/news/2013-09-25/28-of-britons-feel-discriminated-against-due-to-accent/

Maybe accent discrimination is just a small part of the bigger “Class Discrimination” issue this country has. After all, you can’t tell what class someone is through visuals. A black man could be from an upper class background (not statistically likely, but possible), as could a woman who gets a job interview. Denying the black man a job based on this alone would be racist. Denying the woman, sexist. But it wouldn’t be discriminatory based on class. When a person’s mouth opens, that’s the big giveaway. No one would mistake me for being upper-class.

The upper class hold all the positions of real power in the country, and they have been brought up amongst other upper class people, and their minds have been conditioned to believe that only the upper class can handle roles of importance. If it is acknowledged that there is a wealth of skill and knowledge in the lower classes, their livelihoods could be threatened.

Another quote from the above source:

“Our research not only shows that more than a quarter of Britons (28%) feel they have been discriminated against because of their regional accent but also, according to another batch of research by the law firm Peninsular, that 80% of employers admit to making discriminating decisions based on regional accents.”

Unfortunately there is no law against accent discrimination, and even if there was, it would be difficult to enforce. I just see this accent issue as part of a much bigger class gap issue, which is a mammoth obstacle to overcome in our society. The fact remains, for the majority of people, who you are and where you come from condemns you.

READ THIS RELATED ITV ARTICLE

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Tuition Fees: The Lower The Better

Today Ed Milliband promised that he would cut university tuition fees by a third if elected and, crucially (as we learnt from Mr Clegg last time), this would be non-negotiable in any post-election coalition deals. There has already been a lot of cynicism in the media about this, and I am preparing myself for more of the same, but I think this cut in tuition fees would be a great thing.

A lot of the naysayers are saying that the promise is tokenistic, and that it wouldn’t make much of a difference to students. If a student takes a 4-year university course today, it will cost them £36,000. If they take the same course after the tuition cut it will cost them £24,000. They would save £12,000 (this isn’t taking into account other expenses such as accommodation). That’s simple mathematics. £12,000 is a lot of money. If a person doesn’t think £12,000 is a lot of money then they’re out of touch with the real world.

The universities are also saying that this is a bad idea (surprise, surprise). They seem to be concerned that they might not be able to function properly if the tuition fees are capped at £6000 a year instead of £9000. This is all talk. A few short years ago (as recent as 2010) fees were capped at £3000 a year, and they were coping just fine. Now, suddenly they’re horrified at the prospect of having to cope with 6k.

Lowering tuition fees is good for the country but, personally, I think the cap should be even lower. Ideally, I believe higher education should be free.

Up until the late 90s it was, essentially, free to go to uni. But for much of this time university was something that was only accessible to the more privileged, and it wasn’t generally considered an option for the working class. During this time it was acceptable for the taxpayer to foot the bill for higher education. When university became an option for most young people, even the working class, that’s about the time they decided that people should have to pay for university. If you see something wrong with that, then you and I are on the same page.

Why should the wealthy have more of a right to a good education than the poor?

The Nordic philosophy to higher education is what we should aspire to. They have always been strongly opposed to tuition fees. The same goes for Scotland. The difference with Scotland is that they are actually a part of the UK. I also live in the UK, but I wouldn’t get free tuition fees because I happen not to have been born in the right part of the UK. If Scotland gets free higher education I think we should all get the same privilege.

I feel privileged to have been able to go to university. I’m the first person in my family to have done so (in fact, when I got my first GCSE I became the most qualified member of my family, which comprises of coal miners and steel-workers). University is a great opportunity to develop, meet people, and broaden your horizons while in the pursuit of knowledge. I believe it has made me a better person, and I believe our country would benefit from it greatly…IF people didn’t come out of the other side of it with crippling debt.

Cuts to tuition fees would be a big step in the right direction.