SIXTH form students from Castle Rushen High School are urging their MHKs not to break their manifesto pledges by supporting the introduction of university tuition fees.
Year 12 and 13 students (ages 16 to 18) have been busy collecting signatures on a petition opposed to the change and lobbying their MHKs.
Heather Allen, aged 17, who lives in a commissioners’ house in Castletown, hopes to study maths at Oxford.
She said she cried when she heard the Department of Education and Children’s proposals: ‘I thought that’s it, I just won’t be able to go. I come from somewhere where we can barely afford to pay the accommodation.
‘I sat down with my dad yesterday and he started talking about me finding a job on the island instead of going to university.
Heather added: ‘None of my family have been to university, and not meaning to sound cocky, I’m smart and I think I deserve to go.’
James Georgeson, aged 17, of Port St Mary, hopes to study history and politics at Bangor.
‘I feel let down,’ he said. ‘I voted for MHKs who promised not to introduce tuition fees.’
He said: ‘We are fighting for all generations after us. If we don’t stand up now there is going to be a backlash.’
James said that they would continue to campaign if Tynwald voted in favour of the proposals.
Erin Jackson, aged 16, of Port St Mary, said a fairer system of means-testing was needed than the system being proposed.
‘If families have a high income and can afford to pay then they should pay. But if they have a low income then they should have help.’
Mairead Merritt, aged 17, of Port Erin, wants to study nursing.
She said if the changes were introduced, it would be students like her who would be ‘paying the price’ for the department acting ‘irresponsibly’ in the past by having such a relaxed system over university tuition fees, with regard to the minimum qualifications needed.
And she said money had been wasted in education in other areas too, for example, by introducing iPads into schools.
Bronte Wright, aged 16, of Port St Mary, said it was ‘a bad decision that hasn’t been considered fully’.
She said Manx students were in a worse position than those in the UK because they were not eligible to apply for a range of UK and EU scholarships and bursaries.
Thomas Bott, aged 18, of Ballasalla, has applied to study natural sciences at Cambridge.
He said the current system did need changing, but that it should feature a much lower interest rate as part of the student loan.
Pupils from all the island’s secondary schools have been collecting signatures on petitions against the proposal for fees as we reported here.