Posts Tagged ‘ education ’

(Almost) live from Manchester occupation

On Wednesday, after a 6000 strong march through Manchester against the higher education cuts and rise in tuition fees, I was among a group of students who occupied part of the Roscoe building. We got loads of press coverage, my flatmate who has never been particularly involved in activism before got on TV, and we have pretty much been constantly giving radio interviews.

A small group of people who came out to meet the BBC reporter. You can see me if you look closely.

 

The has been minimal disruption to lectures, with many lecturers continuing normal timetabled lectures in the theatre. We figure that while we are using the space to organise against the attacks to our education, we should allow the space to continue to be used as a place of “normal academic learning” as much as possible. On Friday afternoon, when there were no timetabled lectures, we held our own. One in particular was a talk by Japhy Wilson about the crisis of capitalism which was fascinating. I have recorded the talks and discussion as audio files that are available to download below.

A group of students are continuing the occupation over the weekend. I’ve been delegated to go to the national co-ordinating meeting for the Education Activist Network on Sunday, so the best way to find out more about the occupation is to check out http://www.roscoeoccupation.wordpress.com and follow us on twitter at @mancoccupation You can also follow the Education Activist Network at @edactivistnet

Download the following file to hear Japhy Wilson’s talk today: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=TWZHYLTW

Download the following file to hear the open floor meeting: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=97I3RS78

Note that the files might take a few minutes to become available on megaupload. Also note that I’m not really totally sure how reliable megaupload is on a large scale. I’ve only used it to distribute files quickly to mates before. We don’t really have anyone tech-savvy here!

these files are also available on the Roscoe Occupation website. www. roscoeoccupation.wordpress.com

The Browne Review: Where next for the student movement?

The recent publication of the Browne Review will not only have lasting consequences for higher education funding and the wider university landscape, but will have massive repercussions for the student movement.

The review itself was headed up Lord Browne, the former Chief Executive at BP whose savage cost saving cuts and subsequent health and safety corner-cutting there had him accused by some pundits as “the man most responsible for the BP oil spill”. It should come as no surprise to us that his review, which was instigated by the Labour Party, would follow his trend of maximising savings by slashing expenditure. The question remains, will his proposals be as devastating to the student movement as the oil spill was to the Gulf of Mexico?

Within a context of a 25% reduction in education funding, the clear winners in the proposals will be the elite universities who will be able to claw back their funding from the pockets of students paying increased fees. Other winners include part-time students who will finally be allowed to access some reliable form of education funding. The losers in the proposals are the less prestigious universities who can’t afford to put off students with a hike in fees and arts and humanities departments who are likely to be decimated by the proposals. Needless to say, students loose out on these proposals by paying more, but working class and some minority students will be worst affected by grants and scholarships not keeping pace with the increase in fees and living costs and being able to rely on the parental handouts.

the increasing costs of education may lead to students not being able to afford clothes

Whether Lord Browne’s proposals get the nod through Parliament largely depends on the whim of whoever is holding the party whip; but it is clear that the student movement needs to look beyond traditional party politics for it solution. The Liberal Democrats, once the darling of liberal students, are set to betray the movement by voting for an increase in tuition fees on top of their support for a 25% education budget cut. Whilst the Libdems might make a show of a small back-bench rebellion on the issue; it is proof, as if proof were needed, that the Libdems were never the “progressive” party they claimed to be.

With the Labour Party’s ranks swelling with Libdem defectors, and it enjoying a long history of support from the NUS bureaucracy, it seems likely that students will increasingly turn to Labour in search of a saviour. But, as the inventors of the Browne Review, can they really be trusted? It seems that a slash and burn approach to education funding would also be on their agenda if they had managed to make it into power again, and whilst they can (and no doubt will) criticise the ConDems from the relative safety of the opposition benches, they do not represent a viable, progressive alternative for us.

So, where next? With the National Union of Students flagship graduate tax seeming more and more like re-branded tuition fees, the rank and file of the student movement will have to look elsewhere for support in the fight for fair and genuinely free education. How we respond to the current attacks on our education will be key, and its clear from looking at our movements’ history we never got anything without fighting for it.

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Is Free Education a Queer Issue?

Free Education is an issue that has mainly been forgotten. The National Union of Students has abandoned the fight, and is instead pushing a ‘graduate tax’ which in the long run leaves students paying up to double the amount we pay now under the ‘top-up fees’ model, selling out students in the process of cosying up to the government.

As much as the fight for Free Education has been forgotten, the effects of this education tax are felt acutely in the here and now. People are having to quit university because they cannot afford to pay tuition fees. Numbers of students going into sex work in order to pay for their degree has increased by at least 50% in the last 10 years.* The average student will be saddled with a debt of £26,000^.

Our movement needs to show its strength by fighting back against the marketisation of our education

Of course, the spiralling cost of education is an issue that effects us all, but, disproportionately effects students from oppressed groups; the working class, BME, disable, and LGBT. Indeed, LGBT students are more likely to be estranged from their parents; and so often do not have the Bank of Mum and Dad to fall back on. Not only that, but due to the overly strict rules that the ultimately inept Student Loans Company have towards “proving” one was estranged, many students don’t receive the bursaries that they should be entitled to otherwise, simply because they cant prove their estrangement, but cant provide documentation of parental income either.

Opponents of Free Education will talk about just how much education provision costs, they’ll bring along the bogey-man recession to make it seem like an impossible prospect. They may even try and argue that free education isn’t something you deserve. All this is utter rubbish, when it comes down to it, it’s not about finding the funds, they are already there. They are just being spent on something else – ID cards, nuclear weapons, or imperialist wars in the Middle East. Its time we stop spending our money on this nonsense, and start investing it in education.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/student/news/article665019.ece

http://www.onlyfinance.com/Debt/Student-debt-and-their-fantasy-world.aspx

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