Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/645/10560
Students challenge Willetts
A delegation of students and trade unionists representing Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) recently lobbied Tory minister for universities David Willetts at his Havant constituency office to challenge him over the findings of the Browne Review, student debt and his government's plans for savage education cuts.
Accompanied by a journalist from the Portsmouth News, the delegation (comprised of members of Unite, RMT and Portsmouth and Southampton student unions) picketed Willetts' office, and had an hour long meeting with the minister, who infamously declared students to be 'a burden on the taxpayer'.
Clare Blackwell, a medical student from Southampton University, challenged Willetts over his assertion that higher levels of debt won't restrain working class college students from going to university.
Clare also rejected Willetts' claim that cuts in education would be sparing. She pointed out that at Southampton, technicians and support staff had already been made redundant and that in many overfilled lecture theatres students have to sit on the floor.
When asked if he accepted that under a free market system some universities would 'go to the wall' Willetts agreed, saying: "you could have private companies taking over universities."
Aside from publicly challenging Willetts and gaining valuable press coverage the event also succeeded in building links with teachers and union reps at Havant College, ensuring that YFJ continues to play a key role in uniting students and workers across the region.
In The Socialist 3 November 2010:
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis