Get the armed forces away from universities
Now that the new academic year is starting, vans painted in camouflage colours are present in university campuses across the country. Next to these vans, smiley and well-groomed soldiers are trying to lure students into enlisting in the Naval Service, the British Army or the Royal Air Force. The promise is that their fees are going to be payed and a prosperous career in the armed forces is to be expected.
Surprisingly, there is very little criticism of the presence of the armed forces in the universities. Hidden under the cloak of heroism and necessity, the military, navy and air force are beyond scrutiny.
Now that each student is expected to pay £9,000 to get a place in a Russell Group university, it is pertinent to question whether it is permissible to have the armed forces in campuses, promising fee weavers and blooming careers to young undergraduates who are financially struggling to pay their way through university. Are the armed forces exploiting needy students who are in a weaker bargaining position?
The main criticism ought to be directed towards the Universities. As far as the armed forces are concerned they are doing nothing wrong. To the very least, they are doing what their contemporaries around the world do – they are appealing to those sections of the society that are needy enough to be willing to fight wars that the rest of us do not really bother with.