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Posted on 17 December 2010 at 20:48 GMT

Students in Wales fight on

Cardiff university students protest against higher tuition fees and education cuts, photo Cardiff Socialist Students

Cardiff university students protest against higher tuition fees and education cuts, photo Cardiff Socialist Students   (Click to enlarge)

Students in Wales continued to fight back against ideologically motivated attacks on education this week, with actions taking place at University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC) and Aberystwyth University.

Edmund Schluessel

300 students, supported by UCU members and members of the public, marched over two miles and demonstrated at the Llandaff campus of UWIC on the evening of Tuesday 14 February, organising a mass demonstration against proposed cuts to the Cardiff School of Arts and Design which would see the closure of the nationally-renowned Sculpture degree and the loss of 20 lecturers' jobs.

Art students carrying hand-made banners and placards demonstrated for two hours outside the meeting of the university's board of governors, demanding an end to course cuts and that a promise of a meeting with the university's vice chancellor be fulfilled. Socialist Party members at UWIC led chants of "Shame on UWIC" and "Save the heart of Cardiff Art" while several messages of support were read out from educators, artists and students.

During the course of the demonstration, students were informed that the sculpture programme was now merely "suspended", buying the students time until the spring to continue building a response.

Shamefully, UWIC's students union has decided to back the course cuts and took steps to cut students out of any meaningful discussion of the proposals. UWIC students union is not a member of the NUS or of other networks of students and is widely recognised as among the least effective in Wales.

Early in the afternoon of the same day, 50 students and staff at Aberystwyth University occupied a lecture theatre against proposed increases to tuition fees, cuts to public sector spending, and the agenda of marketisation and privatisation put forward by both the Con-Dem government in London and the Labour-Plaid Welsh Assembly government.

Students presented a petition of 1,500 signatures - more than a tenth of the student population - to the university's vice chancellor before undertaking an overnight occupation of room A12 on the campus. While in occupation, students put on live music performances and exchanged messages of solidarity with other student groups across the UK.

The occupation ended early Wednesday morning after a response from the vice chancellor, Noel Lloyd. The contents of the response have not been publicly released. During its course, the occupation received the support of the Aberystwyth Guild of Students president, Jon Antoniazzi, and the university's Department of International Politics.

Students at all 11 of Wales' institutions of higher education have been involved in active campaigning against cutbacks since the 10 November NUS-UCU march in London. While Welsh students have won major concessions from the Welsh Assembly government, including the continuation of the EMA grant and the capping of fees at their present level, students across Wales continue to organise and fight alongside educators, in solidarity with students in England and for a publicly-funded system of good-quality education for all.

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