Students plan to fight back against the Coalition
Talking to the Guardian, NUS president Liam Burns says students have a lot to be angry about and urges members to increase pressure on politicians.
“You’ve had your EMA [educational maintenance allowance] stalled, tuition fees tripled and your education systematically attacked across the board by the coalition.
“In a year in which there are no votes in parliament and no legislation coming before politicians, it’s about time we started setting the agenda.”
The protest, to be held on 21 November, will mark the first national demonstration called by the NUS since the anti-tuition fee marches held in 2010, when the Conservative party headquarters was attacked and riot police clashed with students in Parliament Square, leading to 393 arrests.
Burns’s announcement follows a report by the Intergenerational Foundation which found the prospects of young people have nose-dived since the start of the financial crisis in 2008.
Addressing student delegates, Burns said politicians did not look out for the interests of students.
“Youth unemployment is at an all-time high, getting on the property ladder is next to impossible and we don’t even have the safety net of pensions to look forward to any more.”
The NUS announcement is supported by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC), a leftwing student campaigning group, which will co-ordinate walkouts among school and college students on the same day.
Michael Chessum, the campaign’s co-founder and a member of the NUS’s national executive, says the group’s direct action will continue into the new year: “We want to derail government plans to create a market out of our education system.
“We’ve seen the beginnings of this in HE and FE – and it’s a disaster for access. In colleges, an end to EMA and the introduction of loans for adults mean the fundamental paths to learning are becoming off-limits. We want a free education system, funded by taxation of the rich.”
The Universities and College Union has voiced its support for the protests, saying the union shares many of the frustrations felt by students.
Sally Hunt, the UCU general secretary, says: “At a time when other countries are investing in education, our government is cutting college and university places and making it more expensive to study. Ministers need to harness further and higher education to provide young people with opportunities and a future.”