NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING

  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • The UK's Student Movement at a Crossroads


    What was supposed to be the biggest UK student march of 2012 ends as a chaotic washout, leaving the future uncertain for Britain's student movement -   November 25, 2012
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

    Audio

      Share to Twitter
    Share to Facebook




    I support The Real News Network because they do not just parrot the 24 hour news cycle of the mainst - David Pear
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Transcript

    The UK's Student Movement at a CrossroadsHassan Ghani

    The days of a free higher education, once the norm in the United Kingdom, are long gone. And the current government tripled the cost of university tuition shortly after it entered office in may 2010.

    Students reacted with angry protests on a massive scale, feeling particularly betrayed by the junior partner in the governing coalition, the liberal democrat party, who ran their election campaign appealing to students on a manifesto to fight against higher tuition fees, but joined the government’s austerity cuts once in office

    Today, those protests continue.

    The primary focus of this demonstration is the tripling of university tuition fees and the scrapping of the education maintenance allowance, both of which students say will significantly damage their future life chances.”

    Protest organisers told us that their presence was a reminder to those in power that students would hold them accountable.

    Liam Burns, President, National Union of Students

    “We had a solemn promise from a number in parliament which meant that tution fees shouldn’t increase, and yet they lied and u-turned. This demonstration, and why we have thousands of people here today, is to say that that’s not good enough. Today is about setting up a narrative that by 2015 politicians have to do something different with education and employment in this country.”

    Toni Pearce, Deputy President, National Union of Students

    “This is about making sure our voices are heard. And not just for the sake of students now, but for communities and societies that are in those educational institutions.”

    Hassan Ghani

    The government says its wider programme of public spending cuts must go ahead to reduce the country’s massive budget deficit. It says the rise in tuition fees is necessary to ensure Britain’s universities remain world class, and student’s won't have to pay their tuition fees until after they start work. But the thought of having a debt of tens of thousands of pounds upon graduation doesn’t go down well, especially when previous generations have enjoyed a free higher education.

    Kallum Taylor, York University Students Union

    “It’s about priorities, and I think they’ve gone for short term goals here. Education and health are vital to any country, and those seem to be the two things this government’s attacking. You need a healthy nation, you need an educated nation. Those two things did not cause the recession, and those are the two that are being attacked, and it’s not good enough.”

    Hassan Ghani

    But this is not just about education cuts, many are concerned about a lack of jobs and opportunities for their age group.

    Kallum Taylor, York University Students Union

    “There’s a massive youth unemployment problem in the UK right now. They’re making people work for longer until later on in life, till they’re seventy. And there’s not enough jobs here for young people, so graduates who are fit enough and clever enough to get decent jobs haven’t got those rewards for them after university. So people are basically saying: What are we paying for?”

    Hassan Ghani

    But ultimately, government cuts in education spending have gone ahead, and today Britain's student movement is not what it used to be. This was due to be the largest student demo of 2012. But unlike previous years, when 50 thousand students marched on London in opposition to government’s plans, this time just a few thousand turned up. Some students acknowledged that the failure to stop the cuts had dealt a major blow to their cause, and it would take time to rebuild momentum.

    Student protestor

    “It is going to take longer this time to build a movement, but it’s important we do it. If we build one, and if students link together with young workers, and the wider trade union movement, I think it is possible that we can defeat this government and defeat the agenda which they represent, and hopefully save education for later generations.”

    Hassan Ghani

    The rally made its way along the river Thames embankment, some holding Palestinians flags in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

    And there was dissent within the ranks. Organisers shepherded the march away from parliament and into South London, on a route agreed with the police. But others insisted this was the place to make their stand, irrespective of what the authorities felt. The police however ensured that didn’t happen, locking down Parliament Square.

    Eventually, the march moved on to its final rally point in a muddy field in South London. Again, dissenting voices could be heard, angry that the student leadership had dragged them out of central London and essentially out of sight. They shouted that they’d been sold out to the establishment. And the rally prematurely ended when dissenters within the crowd stormed the stage, angry with the organisation of the march, the failure of the union to prevent education cuts, and its continued support for the Labour Party, which has approved of doubling, rather than trebling tuition fees.

    Student protestor

    “There is a division within the NUS now, between those that think we can keep building our movement and think we can go from strength to strength, and those that want to keep us quiet and make sure we vote labour in 2015. And I think that what you’ve seen today is that division really being played out. There’s no direction being given by the leadership.”

    Hassan Ghani

    The NUS leadership say militant forms of union action won't work in the UK, and that they’re pursuing 21st century forms of campaigning for 21st century problems, which have garnered some concessions from the government. They dismissed the disruption of their rally as a distraction.

    But as the clear up begins, many are left wondering what lies ahead for Britain’s student movement, once able to rally vast numbers across the country, now divided and weakened. Hassan Ghani, for the Real News Network, London.


    Comments

    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    Israel and Gaza Extends Cease Fire Amid Last Minute Attacks
    The Islamic State, Assad, and the Contradictions Faced by the US in Syria
    Michael Brown's Funeral Buried in Media Circus
    Ferguson Resident: "You Can't Talk about Race and Class and Privilege in a Soundbite"
    Fed Chair Signals Possible Policy Shift on Unemployment
    Special Report: Ferguson Police Profiling of Blacks a Major Funding Source for City Budget
    Protecting the Amazon Includes Defending Indigenous Rights
    "I Can't Breathe" - Gerald Horne on Reality Asserts Itself (6/6)
    Xavante's Song
    Canada's Largest Union Protests Pension Cuts
    The Powers Behind The Islamic State
    The Dahiya Doctrine: Evidence of Israel's Intentional Mass Slaughter in Gaza
    Falk: US Limits Ability of UN To Hold Israel Accountable for War Crimes
    Connecting the Dots Between Ferguson and Baltimore
    Abolition of Slavery was Not a Fight Against Racism - Gerald Horne on Reality Asserts Itself (5/6)
    Greenland Glaciers' Rapid Melting Will Have Global Effects
    In Ferguson, Money For Tanks And Tear Gas, But None For Education
    What My Friend Jim Foley Taught Me to Question
    White Unity and American Propaganda History - Gerald Horne on Reality Asserts Itself (4/6)
    Despite Renewed Attacks, Israel No Closer to Defeating Palestinian Resistance
    Police Continue to Violate Press Freedom In Ferguson
    US Escalates Iraq Airstrikes but Lacks Long-term Strategy
    The Counter-Revolution of 1776 and the Construction of Whiteness - Gerald Horne on Reality Asserts Itself (3/6)
    Civil Liberties Under Assault in Ferguson As Police Attack Peaceful Protesters
    Ferguson Protestors Defy Curfew to Demand Justice for Michael Brown
    The Black Scare and the Democratic Party - Gerald Horne on Reality Asserts Itself (2/6)
    Gaza Cease-Fire Extended, but What's Needed for a Just Solution to the Conflict?
    The Price of NAACP Compromise Was Too High - Gerald Horne on Reality Asserts Itself (1/6)
    Putin and Russian Nationalism on the Rise
    Foreign Oil Interests in Iraqi Kurdistan and the Rise of ISIS

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting