A Call to Arms – Use your Voice!

Almost a year on from the “Demolition” marches of last year – SUSU peacefully marched again in protest against the cuts and changes being made to Higher Education by the Coalition Government.

Having sent a coach of SUSU students to London, who joined up with thousands of other protesters, students and workers from all over the country united in delivering a clear message in solidarity – stop what you are doing.

The changes being made by the Government have seen as much as 80% of teaching funding being cut, the cap on tuition fees being lifted to £9000, and the rate of interest paid back on loans increasing by 5%.

When this is all put together with the fact that students can now only pay back from what they earn over £21,000 per year, as of next year, estimates suggest that nearly half the graduated population will not pay back their loan in the 30 year timeframe, and some will pay as much as £110,000 for it.

Some students may feel that it’s too late to make a difference – the legislation has been passed – but things can always change, and they can only change with continuous pressure being applied in the right places. That’s why SUSU is still fighting the changes being proposed by the Government, and will continue to do so up to and beyond the next General Election.

A working group has been set up to discuss how we move forward as a Union – as your Union – in applying this pressure and in ensuring that the Government listens to the thousands of angry voices up and down the country, and that a viable alternative is offered to students at the next General Election.

With the UCU (University & Colleges Union) strikes taking place on the 30th November, where University staff up and down the country are taking strike action against cuts to their pension schemed and their working hours, we are meeting today at 4pm on the SUSU Concourse to discuss what action SUSU wants to support the action.

If you are interested – come along and add your voice to the debate, and I hope to see you there.

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3 Comments on "A Call to Arms – Use your Voice!"

  1. Sasha
    Boo Radley
    10/11/2011 at 1:40 pm Permalink

    The Eurozone in meltdown, a global recession, public spending having to be curbed in order to bring confidence and stability to the markets.

    Good to know that SUSU has sent out the “Call to Arms” I mean this is war. Middle Class students should not have to pay higher tax for the benefit of a better paid job, having had the opportunity to attend University. Screw Hospitals, Screw the Armed Services, Screw Welfare and Job creation funding. We should not have to pay back £30 a month for the benefit of having an Education that will substantially increase our lifetime earnings.

    Bloody Government.. “When are they going to bloody well do something”…

    SUSU Will March!!!!

  2. Sasha
    10/11/2011 at 1:43 pm Permalink

    How can an elected vice president dealing with ‘academic affairs’ not be talking about the education white paper?

    I wrote this for another SUSU blog:

    This demonstration is about more than the rise in fees (and the cuts to the HE budget and EMA). The governments latest attacks proposed within the innocuous sounding ‘Higher Education White Paper’ are a hundred times more destructive. Universities will not continue as they have been but with higher fees. We will begin to see the creation of a two tier education system where the majority lose out.

    At the moment each university has a guaranteed proportion of high achieving students, those who get AAB at A level, in order to prevent excessive polarisation in the system. From next year this quota will be removed completely, allowing open competition for these students. This will lead to a concentration of high attaining students in a few ‘elite’ universities, while starving institutions lower down league tables of undergraduates with the best A levels.

    On top of this institutions which don’t attract these AAB students will be punished if they continue to charge 9k fees. They will have their quota of students reduced, at a big financial loss. This creates a massive incentive for non-elite universities to provide budget degrees. Or alternatively subjects which don’t attract the best students will close modules or be scrapped entirely. London Metropolitan University has lowered fees and cut 70% of its courses.

    These measures are the ones I think are most damaging but there is a list as long as my arm. Private ownership of Universities being another extremely messed up policy.

  3. Sasha
    11/11/2011 at 4:42 pm Permalink

    Boo Radley,

    People are marching to challenge the idea that public spending needs to be ‘curbed’. If you are against cuts to education you are also against cuts more widely, unless you are stupid.

    It is a lie that we need to reduce spending in order to save. The deficit is the difference between what we spend and what we tax. The alternative people are pushing is that we need to tax more. More precisely that we need to be taxing the rich more.

    The 1000 richest people last year increased their personal wealth by 30%. That’s a rise of £77bn to a total of £333.5bn. That is a record rise since the ‘rich list’ was created twenty-two years ago. We have one of the lowest tax rates for the rich in europe. The poor pay more as a proportion of their income in tax than the rich. The idea that the most vulnerable in society should pay for a fabricated crisis while the rich keep getting increasingly more wealthy is disgusting.

    For the past hundred years we have almost always operated with a deficit and in the past it has been considerably higher. After the second world war (as you would expect) our deficit was the largest it has ever been but that is the time when we massively increased public spending and created the welfare state.

    Then you consider that this is not just about tuition fees, also the white paper, which regardless of how the sums add up would create an incredibly unjust and polarised education system. This is about working class access to education, even now terrible, not just the question of whether ‘middle class’ people can afford to pay.

    The introduction of tuition fees and the idea that we should pay rather than society opens up education to marketisation. We have gone from fees of 1k to 3k to 9k and now face massive privatisation. That’s probably the most important point of all. Education isn’t there just to improve your salary in future (which at the moment it won’t!). It is massively beneficial for a society to be educated. Which is why other countries spend a much higher proportion of their GDP on education than we do.

    And in a time where we produce more than enough to live comfortably, where there are millions unemployed, where it makes sense to argue for a working week with fewer days, it should be fine for people to take a few years out to study art or english or egyptology, or whatever, before going to work. It should be argued that education is a right which everyone should have equal access to. The only coherent argument for that is free education paid for by taxing the rich.

    One of my favourite placards on the march was “Without free education even the lie about a meritocracy isn’t convincing”.

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