Protests planned nationwide
On the 24 November there will be further national protests against the rise in higher education fees and cuts to funding.
The Press Release provided by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) states that ‘all actions are to be taken and co-ordinated locally’; this means that student and staff groups will be independently organising different forms of protest for their respective universities across the country.
Several Universities have staged independent protests since the National demonstration that took place in London on Wednesday 10 November. The following day, students at Manchester University occupied a building and called for the staff to provide information about what effects the cuts will have. The statement issued by the students said, “we are demanding that the university opens its books so that we know where the cuts will fall.”
The controversial events of the National Demonstration marked a significant divergence between many student bodies and Unions and the National Union of Students (NUS). A unity statement, issued by a coalition of student leaders and representatives on the 11 November, asserted that “we reject any attempt to characterise the Millbank protest as small, ‘extremist’ or unrepresentative of our movement.”
However, an e-mail written by senior officials of the NUS to staff at the Millbank building made it clear that the union did not support the actions of the group who stormed the Conservative headquarters: “we emphatically condemn these violent actions.”
The call for local action to be taken on the 24 November has caused further tension between the two groups as the NUS wishes to form a National lobby later this month as opposed to performing smaller, localised actions. In an e-mail to supporters, Aaron Porter, leader of the NUS, stated: “I am of the belief that the actions of the NCAFC could now be a risk to our wider objective.”
The ‘Walkout and day of Action’ scheduled to take place on Wednesday aims to begin at 11am and continue throughout the day. The Press Release says “we would like to encourage students of all ages and backgrounds to take peaceful and creative forms of political protest and direct action.
University occupations, demonstrations, banner droppings and walkouts are all welcomed as ways to show students’ discontentment.” The students of the University of Sussex will be attending a ‘Fight the Fees’ march on the day, which will begin at 2pm at the BHASVIC Sixth Form and continue through town and conclude at Victoria Gardens, Brighton. The BHASVIC Sixth Form has organised this march in order to show their support for the Stop the Cuts campaign and have asked that all members of educational institutions join them as they walk the streets in protest.
Katie O’Shea, a first-year English student, who plans to attend this march said, “I think it’s great that schools as well as universities are taking action against the cuts because it’s the next generation of students that are really going to be affected by it. I will definitely support them.”
Students at Sussex are also planning to ‘walk-out’ of lectures and seminars at 11am on the 24 November, alongside the students of hundreds of other educational establishments around the country.
Luke Martell, a professor of political Sociology at Sussex spoke out in support of these plans at the demonstration that took place in Library Square on the 15th of November. He said, “I know that a lot of the students from my 11 o’clock Wednesday seminar are here. I hope not to see you there next week.”