From September 2012, universities in England will be allowed to start charging higher fees to undergraduates. The upper limit on university fees will be raised from £3,290 to £9,000.
In an attempt to sweeten the pill of the fees increase, the government had said that the top rate of £9,000 fees would only be charged “in exceptional circumstances”. However, the BBC reports that education experts, NUS President Aaron Porter, and Cambridge University management all expect most universities to charge the full amount.
It is likely that Vice Chancellors of English universities will announce the new level of fees they plan to charge over the next few weeks. The government has set a deadline of 31 March for university managements to submit their plans for new funding and access schemes.
The student movement needs to put pressure on Vice Chancellors not to raise tuition fees in this period — and if VCs announce increased fees, they should keep up the pressure through the next academic year to prevent their implementation.
The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts has called a national day of mobilisation on 24 February, to coincide with the Universities UK Conference, a get-together for Vice Chancellors. There will be a demonstration outside the conference on Woburn Place, London, and universities outside London will take action on their campuses
Hull fights back
On Monday 7 February, students from Hull Students Against Fees and Cuts started an occupation of Staff House, used by Hull Uni management to host dinners.
The occupation is backed by the university UCU branch and the Students’ Union. The occupiers are holding open meetings, educationals and other events, including a meeting by Workers’ Liberty activists from our Israel-Palestine delegation.
The demands of the occupiers include: open the books on university finance; VC to refuse to raise fees; no redundancies; VC to uphold current pensions agreement with UCU; security staff should be employed in-house.
We have just received the following report from anti-cuts student activists in Glasgow.
"NUS President and New Labour apparatchik Aaron Porter has been once again chased around a bit by his members.
"It is a testament to how disgraceful the policy of the NUS leadership has been in the last period, that when Porter was confronted by a group of student protesters outside Labour Students' Conference in Glasgow, even most Labour Students and Young Labour delegates appeared, to say the least, unconcerned.
"As he left Labour Students Conference, he encountered a group of student activists. Occupiers from Glasgow University who are battling against cuts on their campus took Porter to task for his failure to support students in their struggle against fees and cuts.
"Showing uncharacteristic swift, decisive action and singleness of purpose, Porter immediately dived between one of the protesters' legs, and fled. His whereabouts are still unknown; it is presumed that he is lost somewhere in Glasgow."
More information here: ssy.org.uk/2011/02/where-in-the-world-is-aaron-porter