The National Union of Students (NUS) teamed up with the University and College Union (UCU) to organise against the Government's recent cuts, policies and rising of fees at all levels of the Education system by hosting a National Demonstration on November 19th.
15,000 people attended the Demo, inluding staff, lecturers, students and many Students' Unions accross the UK including ARU Students' Union, along with Officers; Leigh, Kat and Grace, part-time reps; Thea, James and Nadia and a group of passionate students to show the government that we will not stand for their attempt to marketise education!
Some background on what the goverment are doing and how it will effect Higher Education students;
- Recent cuts to NHS bursaries for nursing students
- Recent abolishment of maintenance grants for students from lower income backgrounds - forcing us to incur even more debt that we will already face
- Recent cuts to Disabled Students Allowance
- Introduction of the Higher Education Bill
- Implementation of the Teaching Excellence Framework - entering higher education institutions into a world of 'Bronze, Silver, Gold' accreditation based on the level of teaching excellence, being measured by metrics such as NSS scores, Destination of Leavers survey and retention rates (None of which truly measure excellent teaching! *huff*) AND depending on what they are accredited will allow them to rise fees NOT GOOD
None of this is acceptable in our opinion, so we marched and chanted: "No if's, not but's, no education cuts!" "Education is a right, not a privelege" throughout Central London until we reached Parliament where the rallly was held. There were speakers such as Malia Bouattia (NUS President), Owen Jones, Sorana Vieru (NUS VP Higher Education) and many more! You can watch the rally on NUS' Twitter page here: https://twitter.com/nusuk
#Nov19 was my first experiecne of a demo/rally and what a wicked first experience it was! The atmosphere was incredible, music was playing the whole 2.5 miles and it was so inspiring to be a part of a movement full of people who share the same vision and passion.
The fight for a fairer, more accessible education is ripe and the Demo was just the beginning! Kudos to NUS, UCU, students, staff and everyone else who believes that Education is a right, not a privelege and truly standing up for what we believe in!
Here's what Thea (Environment and Community Rep, Chelmsford) had to say about her experience:
National Demo: United for Education
November 19th 2016 saw thousands of students, higher education workers and people from all over the UK come together and fight to save our education, fight for the lowering of tuition fees for university courses, and bring back grants and bursaries so that all students have the chance to study. My journey started from 10:26 that day when a few of us boarded a train at Chelmsford and were squished like sardines until we reached our stop at Stratford. The squishing wasn’t bad mind, no, it just highlighted how many people were going to London that day. Even if it did take us 3 tube trains to get before we could get the tube to our destination. We started the march outside the London Hilton in Park Lane, where (admittedly we were quite early to the march) we saw people in the hundred flood in, grab their street curry (I will have to give it to the guy, that curry was incredible) and their banners about saving students, cutting fees, saving the right to education and taking down the current Government. It was breath taking to see how many people were here to protest and march against the Government’s decision to raise tuition fees and cut grants and bursaries for students. I came with Leigh, Megan and my mum (and our banners) and we met up with Cambridge, maybe 10 minutes before the start so we could get our head in the zone and march as a university. We were off! As soon as we started walking, and for a while before hand there was samba music, chants and songs being sung and chatter amongst people. It was such a sight to see just what the public can do if they all unite and stand up for the same cause. Walking through the streets, the public of London were either shocked that so many people believed so strongly about the education cuts, or were really getting into it with us and supporting the cause, it was incredible just to stand back for a little while and see the effect we were having. We walked about 2 and a half miles in total, and I was fully immersed into the crowd mentality, chanting as loud as my voice can hear, even making some up, and holding my banner proudly for all to see. With people from my university surrounding me and my mum proudly marching by my side, I felt incredibly empowered and proud to be rallying through the capital city of my country, for a cause that is so important to not only current students, but to future students and education workers as well. We ended up close to the Houses of Parliament, waving our banners, taking small interviews with others and feeling more and more like we are making a difference with each step. We ended the march listening so some inspirational speakers from the NUS, Green Party and Scotland and knew that no matter what the outcomes of the HE Bill and the Government’s decision, everyone there that day had a part to play in the (hopefully positive) change that will come and I just hope (and I’m pretty sure we did) that we made enough noise for those in power to start to listen. Without the cap on tuition fees, a student grant and the support from my family and the university, I wouldn’t be in my last year of university, and had the opportunity to have the experiences and the study I have had and I really hope that future students still have the same amazing opportunities I had, no matter what the outcome is. Education is a right, not a privilege. Thank you to the Anglia Ruskin Student’s Union for promoting this event and making us aware of the march so that my mum and I could go.
Leigh Rooney, President