Education

Leaflet - Students should support the UCU strike

Submitted by danrawnsley on Mon, 21/03/2011 - 19:56

On Thursday the 24th of March lecturers in colleges across the country will be striking against attacks on their pensions, the threat of redundancies and pay cuts. Our tutors will be taking part in one of the first major trade union actions against the government's austerity plans. They need our support!

Why should we show solidarity?

GMB backs NCAFC demonstration

Submitted by AWL on 18 January, 2011 - 10:44

Another demonstration is being planned against the increase in student tuition fees, with organisers hoping that tens of thousands of people will take part in the protest in the new year.

The latest national protest will be on January 29 in central London, following a wave of demonstrations in recent weeks which have led to a number of arrests and controversy over police tactics.

The Education Activist Network and the National Campaign Against Cuts & Fees have written to trade unions seeking their support for next year's demo.

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Hull students occupy

Submitted by martin on 13 December, 2010 - 11:15
Students

On 13 December students from Hull occupied rooms on the first floor of Staff House on the Hull campus of the University of Hull.

This is a peaceful protest against the cuts in education and EMA, job losses and fees. The occupiers demand that no students or staff are singled out or victimised for assisting or taking part in the occupation.

They call on the University to allow free movement in and out of the occupation and call on students, staff and supporters to join the occupation.

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Submitted by AWL on Tue, 14/12/2010 - 23:52

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Fees and EMA: organise for the next stages!

Submitted by martin on 10 December, 2010 - 2:33 Author: Martin Thomas
Students

The big turnout on the student demonstration on fees and EMA on 9 December shows that this campaign will continue.

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Submitted by martin on Fri, 10/12/2010 - 14:59

I went to the demo with a delegation from Middlesex Uni - about 80 staff and students went. The students union is quite strait-laced but prepared to be cajoled into campaigning by a small and increasingly organised left wing.

I thought the demo was big but I don't know how big - I was near the back and never managed to get near the front. Only glimpsed AWL banner late on in the demo. Surreal moment realising we were going to march through Admiralty Arch and a small way down the Mall! Red flags flying and Buckingham Palace in the distance. One of those moments when you remember what we are actually up against... The irony of it did not seem to hit many of those around me. Perhaps it's an age thing.

We skirted Horse Guards Parade. When the back of the demo got near Parliament Square a rumour went around that people were being kettled already (apparently, it wasn't true) so a few hundred wheeled around and dispersed around Horse Guards, some people ran off into St James Park. A lot more police appeared - I think they had been lurking in the bushes. The ones with the powder blue baseball caps that quickly turn into riot helmets.

And then I had to go to work for two hours!

At about 5.30 I was back on the Embankment at the NUS vigil with a splendid backdrop of Big Ben. Many people were heading away as I arrived, but even with them it would have been quite small. Most people who were there were refugees from the main march. The last speaker was Aaron Porter who was demagogic. You wouldn't think he had played such a terrible role recently; most people in the crowd, however, did seem to know about it and he was booed quite a lot.

Then came the great moment of waving the glowsticks, which lasted only a short while and was even more of a spectacular non-event than you might imagine. Then they played 'Liar, liar' on the PA. Then an older bloke - I don't know who - performed the thankless task of suggesting that the safest thing now was for everyone to go home; when they didn't he gamely led some chanting of 'They say cutback, we say - erm, what was it, oh yeah - fightback'' and 'They say bankers, we say, erm, wankers'. It was all very tragic-comic. Then they announced the vote and people seemed crestfallen.

And then the older bloke launched into a speech that, he told us, General de Gaulle had made in 1940 when the Nazis invaded France and he had to escape to Britain: "La France a perdu une bataille ! Mais la France n'a pas perdu la guerre !"

Bemused and unimpressed, the crowd milled about and a few people showed signs of wanting 'to do something' to demonstrate our anger at the (closeness of the) vote other than just go home to fight another day.

A few of us persuaded enough other people that we could easily push through the flimsy NUS security line to go and stand eyeball to eyeball with the real security line of the police. (I think we need some training in 'leading a crowd' because the people down on the Embankment could be led to do something but most of them lacked... confidence. Most people are still very isolated from each other on these demonstrations. It's striking how they tend to talk to their mates but not much to people around them.)

Then we stood next to Parliament and in front of Portcullis House and shouted for a while. There weren't that many people, and there was one of those moments when someone says I've got a good idea, let's go to xxxx instead, so we all went to xxxx instead, which was Whitehall. There a few hundred people, blocked off by a line of police and a line of police on horses, milled about, threw some fireworks, and eventually a core of this crowd decided to head up to Trafalgar Square for some 'action' or, probably, Covent Garden for something to eat.
 
Further surreal moments followed when people decided to burn the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree which was a sitter. The riot police turned up to extinguish the flames before they really took hold, averting a nasty diplomatic rift between the UK and Norwegian states.

At that point I came home. A strange day. I could say that I'm mildly disappointed that the student protests haven't enticed, for example, public sector unions in Barnet to turn out, but then the public sector unions in Barnet are fighting a battle to save 500 jobs immediately and the mass privatisation of council services, today and for the weeks and months to come. Every sector is run ragged with its own issues.

So for me it's back to Barnet to build the links on the ground.

Submitted by martin on Fri, 10/12/2010 - 15:03

The Daily Telegraph reports that the NUS line in talks with the Government has been not to oppose cuts in university funding, but to suggest "alternative" ones.

"In private talks in October, the NUS tried to persuade ministers at the Department for Business to enact their planned 15 per cent cut in higher education funding without lifting the cap on fees.

In one email to the department’s officials, dated Oct 1, Mr Porter suggested that £800 million should be 'deducted from the grants pot' over four years. That would cut total spending on grants by 61 per cent. Mr Porter also proposed the 'introduction of a real rate of interest' for student loans.

In an email the following day, Graeme Wise, an NUS political officer, suggested that ministers seeking cuts should start with the 'student support' package of grants and loans.

He wrote: 'It would be better in our view to first mitigate the cuts to provision by seeing how student support can be better focused at lower cost.' Mr Wise also suggested that the cuts in support could be imposed on students currently at university.

The NUS plans also called for £2.4 billion to be cut from the universities’ teaching budget over four years, a reduction of 48 per cent."

Submitted by martin on Fri, 10/12/2010 - 18:17

The Daily Mail reports that police were "within seconds" of opening fire on demonstrators when they jostled Prince Charles's car on Thursday 9th.

The Mail also reports that one student beaten around the head by cops needed a three-hour hospital operation to save him.

Yet the Mail still denounces student "yobs" and not the trigger and truncheon-happy cops.

Submitted by vickim on Fri, 10/12/2010 - 20:00

Alfie Meadows, a Middlesex University student, was the young man (he is 20) hit on the head so hard he had bleeding on the brain. He is in Charing Cross hospital now, and recovering, I understand, though he has suffered a major injury. Alfie was very active in the campaign and occupation to save the Middlesex Philosophy department, and he has also been one of the people that helped to mobilise so many people from Middlesex for the recent demos. (I said in my report that 80 people came from Middlesex to the demonstration on 9 November, but the students union thinks it was more.)

Several friends and supporters of Alfie were at Charing Cross hospital today to have a vigil for Alfie and protest against police violence. Anyone who has seen the riot police at close quarters recently will be starting to appreciate how absurd it is to think that the police are basically the same as us and on our side. I do think we are going to have to have some education on this in the coming period, because there are going to be many more protests where we need to be prepared for what the police might do. Your local beat bobby might be a decent wo/man and you might have a liberal local commander, if you're lucky, but they are, like the old cliche, the soft side of the police. They are always backed up by the hard side when the state feels it needs to deploy them.

The sort of police we are encountering on demonstrations are tooled up, trained nutters whose basic job is... to smack people over the head. What are we going to do about it? We had better get organised fast.

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Building the struggle on fees and EMA after 9 December

Submitted by martin on 8 December, 2010 - 6:18
AWL

AWL leaflet for 9 December student demonstration. Click here to download pdf, or read online below

Build student-worker unity: keep the movement going!
Unions and student activists should call a national demonstration for January

Today, 9 December, it is likely that parliament will vote in favour of a massive hike in tuition fees. We cannot accept that as decisive defeat!

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These student protests will grow with or without Aaron Porter's support

Submitted by Newcastle on 30 November, 2010 - 5:53 Author: Rowan Rheingans

An average day in the occupation at Newcastle University begins early. First on the agenda of each general meeting are a selection of messages of solidarity. We continue to be inundated with messages from local activists, teachers, parents, school students and academics, offering practical support and sharing advice from previous actions.

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NUS president makes U-turn to support direct action, and occupations

Submitted by Newcastle on 28 November, 2010 - 5:00 Author: Ed Whitby

NUS president Aaron Porter today did a spectacular U-turn apologising for lack of support for students taking part in the national day of action called by National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts on Wednesday. A the "spineless" lack of public support for university occupations around the country.

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24 November: school students lead the way

Submitted by Newcastle on 26 November, 2010 - 12:03 Author: Ed Whitby
Students

School, college, and university students took to the streets on 24 November, in a show of protest to make it clear that students are not going to accept this government's attacks.

The response to the call for the day of action by National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts has shocked politicians, police and student leaders even more than the size and anger of the National Demonstration on 10 November. Students have made sure that the Royal Wedding didn't force the cuts off the front pages!

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Submitted by Newcastle on Fri, 26/11/2010 - 00:22

More info on Newcastle University occupation
here
And more on other university occupations
here

Submitted by stuartjordan on Fri, 26/11/2010 - 01:28

Over the last 2-3 years the National Union of Students has been led by a load of career politicians who wanted to get jobs in the New Labour machine. More interested in impressing their future bosses than representing students, they abandoned the priniciple of free education. They caved in to the government's logic, rejecting the priniciple that education is a right, not a privilege for the rich. At the same time they shut down the channels of student democracy, abolishing the national delegate conference and created a board of Trustees who have a substantial control over NUC decision-making. They invited in all sorts of capitalist scum to sit on the board of trustees - ex-bankers, university managers etc.

As democratic channels were concreted over, free education activists got together and set up the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts on the basis of mobilising and fighting for free education. The latest demonstrations show that the New Labour NUS leadership is radically out of touch. It is important that students now build the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts and make it their own. This is just the beginning!

Submitted by cathy n on Fri, 26/11/2010 - 08:07

Italian students have occupied the Colosseum and the leaning tower of Pisa (and several lesser-known monuments) in protest at government cuts to and 'reform' of universities. The cuts according to some accounts add up to 1.4bn (others say 600 m) euros. The 'reform' will allow external
representatives on governing bodies (for which read bankers/businessmen/Berlusconi's cronies), give a funding premium to 'top' universities at the expense of others (so, heading in the UK direction), among other things. Berlusconi no longer has an outright majority in parliament and it's not clear whether he can get this through.

In practice the cuts have already meant big new restrictions on access to university. Previously so long as you passed the entrance exam you could pretty much study the course you wanted at the university of your choice. Now ceilings have been placed on admissions and many people are excluded, especially from courses like law/medicine/engineering.

Cath

Submitted by AWL on Fri, 26/11/2010 - 10:09

Bournemouth

The walkout was impressive, 600-700 people from local colleges and Bournemouth university. No obvious organised group had control over the demonstration, which was good and demonstrated the level of mobilisation amongst ordinary students. The placards were home made and were of a very eclectic mix (from as low as 'I only came 4 the orgy' right up to better stuff like 'no to education cuts'). There were a small number of terrible chants from one group of college students such as something along the lines of 'Nick Clegg, Hitler's got more balls than you', but I spoke to quite a lot of students expressing criticism of this. Chants for free education and against the government were very popular and some chants called for linking up with workers.

We marched from a park to the Town Hall where two of the organisers went in to speak to the executive of the council. The demonstration broke out of a fairly ineffective police cordon and marched in to the city centre where it was a lot more visible.

Colchester

It seems that around 600 students took part in a demo which marched around town, with roads being closed by police. Students (250 according to the police media website)then did what I think was an unplanned sit down protest outside the town hall, which got the police riled as it wasn't expected - they were all supposed to be good and disperse in the park. Two people were arrested, one student and one 'member of the public' and a few 'missiles' were thrown (my understanding is coins and small things).

Police say: "This was a difficult operation to police but the protest was largely peaceful and no damage or injuries were caused. Despite the prior arrangements made with the organisers to facilitate a peaceful protest a large segment of the group chose to break away and do their own thing which caused disruption and inconvenience to the public." Cops say the students moved on after 'protracted negotations' but press pictures show coppers forceably lifting students. Other comrades have reported that some of the younger/inexperienced students became a bit rattled/unnerved by the police response.

The Uni took part in the march I believe and then had a teach-in in a pre-booked lecture theatre, which was then occupied overnight. Lots of good banners, I think a core group of activists leading the organisation (both before and on the day, in terms of security of the doors, next steps and so on). Morale was high when I went to visit them and there were good ideas bouncing around.

Unfortunately a good few people went home for the night pledging to come back the next morning, but at around 11am the occupation ended due to too few people (I don't know any more than this). Occupiers were due to attend a Colchester Against Cuts meeting this evening.

Glasgow

There were walkouts in Glasgow at Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow University, Strathclyde University and (I think) Glasgow Caledonian University. Not sure about the University of the West of Scotland. Also a number of school walkouts. (Not sure how many.) There was a joint demonstration from Buchanan Street to Strathclyde University at 3.00pm. One building at Strathclyde was occupied for the afternoon. There were about 300 on the demonstration, and about 50 in the occupation.

At 5.00pm there was a rally in George Square – students, school students, and various trade union speakers (STUC, EIS, UNISON, possibly others I missed). I’d say 500 plus at it, but there was a lot of coming and going, so total attendance
was probably higher.

Three main themes in the speeches at the rallies: attacks on Lib-Dems (and much more than attacks on the Tories; e.g. calls on Charles Kennedy, who is anti-fees-increase, to lead a breakaway from the Lib-Dems); the need for student-trade union joint struggle; the virtues of direct action.

The day’s events were organised following on from an open meeting at Glasgow School of Art for student activists on November 17th, organised by School of Art students. Unless I misheard what was being said at this evening’s rally – the ‘sound system’ was a megaphone – there is a planning meeting at GSA on 8th December to plan for a conference (I assume a Scottish-wide student conference) in January.

Newcastle

Writing this from occupation at Newcastle Uni. 60ish students occupying the arts dept, after a day of marches and teach-ins. Over 1000, poss nearly 2000 marched throughout the day, including a majority of school and colege students. Then 200 took part in teach in cos they hadn't booked a big enough room! By end of day the remaining 100 voted to go into occupation at 5.30.

Manchester

There were about 2,500 people out in Manchester. Very mixed, lots of home made placards, militant. About 20 from my local secondary, who I assume had walked out as they were half in uniform, and organised as they had downloaded and printed off NCAFC posters.

The demo was supposed to be going to the Town Hall but getting close the police had rather half-heartedly blocked off the road with one van. Presumably they'd agreed with those leading the demo (MUSU people, I think) to go down a side street and eventually end up at Castlefield arena where things were set up for a long sequence of speeches. The arena was packed and a smallish group of people marched across the front shouting 'To the town hall'. Virtually everyone stood up and followed them. The police had been keeping a low visible profile but were also caught by surprise. So there was a lot of chaos in the city centre. After a bit of a rally behind the Town Hall they marched back to MU, apparently blocking Oxford Rd. According to the news, about 50 are now occupying a building in the university.

NW News also reported about 1,200 people in Bury which is amazing as there is only an FE college there.

Sheffield

The demo in Sheffield had about 2000. About half from schools and colleges. I counted 7 schools, from across the city. First student protest I've been on with alot of working class students on it. Lots of chants about the EMA.... and about Nick Clegg. No one was leading the demo it was just a mass of shouting people, with home made placards and banners. The Uni student union turned up at the end with a microphone, critisised Clegg and promoted the NUS recall campaign. 100 students went into occupation at the University.

Stockton

There were demonstrations of FE students in Stockton High Street yesterday. About 30 students attended. They were quite vocal and made an impression amongst locals.

Submitted by Newcastle on Fri, 26/11/2010 - 18:31

The occupation at Newcastle University is going well! After problems with security and stopping non-students from coming in easily over the last few days, the university has now agreed that the occupation can decide who comes in and out provided it is just students staying overnight. So student ID not a problem and the school students can now come and go more freely than before.
With the gigs and discussions last night the numbers swelled and there are now over 70 in listening to alternative lecture on global capitalism from politics lecture, before planning meeting to discuss the weekends plans, the day of action, holding a general student assembly and more!

Submitted by Bruce on Fri, 26/11/2010 - 23:41

At the end of Wednesday's march students occupied a lecture theatre in the Roscoe Building. They are still there despite being locked in over the weekend. More information at: http://roscoeoccupation.wordpress.com/

Submitted by Newcastle on Tue, 30/11/2010 - 00:27

Report on Hexham school students by Will Lloyd from QEHS.

Around 50 students from Queen Elizabeth High School in Hexham took the train to Newcastle to join protestors fighting against the scrapping of EMA, the cuts to Higher Education and the near-tripling of university tuition fees on Wednesday the 24th November. At Hexham train station they were photographed and some students were interviewed by the local newspaper, the Hexham Courant. In the run-up to this day of action the school stated to all parents that it could not authorise the walkout, but neither could it prevent students from protesting, and many of the teachers tacitly or explicitly expressed their support. However, they insisted that students could not gather at the front of school due to ‘health and safety’ concerns. Another national day of action on the 30th will see more students along with samba drummers from QEHS joining the demonstration. Students are now planning to start an anti-cuts group with regular meetings in Hexham to discuss the cuts and how to take action against them. A meeting with their Conservative MP Guy Opperman, is timetabled for the future

Submitted by Newcastle on Tue, 30/11/2010 - 15:23

In Newcastle today on 2nd day of action we had a demonstration of 600- 700 students marching through town, half the numbers of last week for a number of reasons, the weather in the northeast means many schools had snow days. This meant there could be less school walkouts and more had people coming independently. But the mood was great and the march was more organized than last week, with marches on the roads delaying traffic with tailbacks of buses and cars into town making more of an impact.

The mood was good and more people turned up to the occupation meeting afterwards making it the biggest occupation general meeting so far. With at least 100 people in the general meeting.

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The "Plebs" go on strike

Submitted by Matthew on 23 September, 2010 - 5:15 Author: Colin Waugh

As Ruskin students and their contacts amongst former students became aware of the drive by people in the Workers’ Educational Association and University Extension movement to take control of Ruskin, they began to organise themselves against it.

During the “strike” that followed the enforced resignation of their principal Dennis Hird, a qualitative change occurred in their strategy, as a result of which 29 of the current students, again supported by former students, threw their energies into creating a new institution, the Central Labour College.

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