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Cuts to higher education announced: Students fight back
On Thursday 18 March the higher education funding body HEFCE announced a reduction of £573 million on the 2009-10 budget. Education minister David Lammy said: "like everyone in the current financial climate, institutions have to do their fair share of belt tightening". But while higher education funding is being slashed the bankers, who triggered and worsened the economic crisis, get massive bonuses!
Education is a right, not a privilege, and it was fought for and won by working class people. Socialist Students organised protests and campaigning at around 25 places on the day of the HEFCE announcement, to call for a mass campaign involving students and workers to fight these attacks. Here are reports of some of the protests.
Around 40 students and staff attended a protest called by the Newcastle Free Education Network. Newcastle University faces a 1% cut from its budget next year. The physics and philosophy departments have already been closed.
Matt Perry of Newcastle UCU lecturers' union criticised the management's attack on job security. Cara Nurse, from the young members' network in the civil servants' PCS trade union, linked education cuts to the wider attack on public services. Unfortunately Newcastle student union council has refused to support the campaign against job losses.
200 staff and students held a protest at the Ashington campus of Northumberland College. All 410 staff members face the threat of redundancy, with only some to be re-hired on worse contracts.
Ian Pattison, Newcastle Socialist Students
Understandably a lot of people are disgusted at the cuts being made to higher education funding and our protest had a significant impact on students. £802,908 is to be cut from our total 'teaching funding' on top of the closure of the German department which has already taken place.
Students need a fighting student union to represent them but unfortunately a student union officer claimed to support this closure because the department is "not sustainable". When questioned on the student union's opinion of the latest cuts, this representative said he did not know anything about it!
Socialist Students has now met more students who want to get involved in the campaign.
Becci Heagney Leicester Socialist Students
Leeds University Against Cuts, a broad anti-cuts campaign that Socialist Students participates in, organised a protest of around 30 activists. On top of HEFCE's cuts to the teaching budget, the vice chancellor, who gets £315,000 a year in pay, pensions and perks, is threatening a further £35 million cuts package. Activists are making plans to build the campaign next semester with a teach-in and participation in the Leeds May Day demonstration.
David Lammy is also Labour MP for Haringey and holds his surgery at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (Chenel, formerly Conel). But on Friday 19 March, in the face of a Socialist Student-organised protest against education cuts, he cancelled. Is there something he doesn't want to discuss?
Our Education Under Attack:
why a mass campaign is needed
How to fight education cuts & increases in fees
A new pamphlet - get in touch for speakers for meetings etc
In The Socialist 24 March 2010:
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Marxist analysis: history
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news