Not at university? The odds are stacked against you | Letters

Those who do not go into tertiary education face structural inequalities, yet the government will not level the playing field

Sonia Sodha’s article brilliantly highlights the unfair advantage that young people who happen to be able to go to university enjoy over their counterparts who happen not to – ie a government-subsidised and societally supported transition to adulthood and independent living (“Is it fair that we spend so much helping middle-class children into adulthood?”, Comment).

There are other structural inequalities that see young people who enter the world of work (and for whom university may not be an option) further disadvantaged. The national living wage applies only to those over 23, yet dental treatment, prescriptions, eye tests and bus travel (in Brighton, anyhow) cost 18- to 22-year-olds in full-time employment exactly the same as adults aged 23 and over. Meanwhile, those in full-time higher education can apply for low-income free prescriptions and access-free dental treatment up to the age of 19; receive income from a student loan that is exempted from their personal tax allowance; and can avail themselves of cheaper student travel and discounts on countless good and services (including eye tests and glasses). The government could do much to level things up for young people – it seems it simply chooses not to. In the meantime, pensioners (the biggest voting group) continue to enjoy free bus travel regardless of income.
Lauren Shukru
Brighton

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