15,000 march in London for free education

By   November 21, 2016

(We are having problems posting directly to our FB page at the moment so thought we’d try another angle and post some general articles via our website first. These may not have a Gravesend/Dartford focus but should still be of interest to Green Party People.)

On Saturday the National Union of Students and the University and College Union held a national demonstration for free education on the streets of London, with some estimates placing the number of demonstrators at as high as 15,000. The demo had three key policy asks, and forms the start of a wider programme of campaigning by the two unions:

  • To invest in FE colleges and sixth forms and stop college mergers
  • To write off student debt and stop private education companies profiting from student fees
  • To scrap the HE Bill, halt the rise in tuition fees and bring back maintenance grants

The march comes after recent government decisions that include the raising of tuition fees in line with inflation (leading some universities to now be charging £9,250 a year for undergraduate courses), the removal of grants for living costs to be replaced with loans and a storm of criticism against the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and the associated National Students Survey (NSS) and the decision to grade universities on this as ‘gold’, ‘silver’ and ‘bronze’.

The march assembled at the edge of Hyde Park and marched to the Houses of Parliament, ending with a round of speeches from a stage erected in the middle of Milibank. The route took marchers past Downing Street, at which point a number of protesters paused to play steel drums, dance and chant ‘Tories out!’ at the gates.

Speakers at the rally included NUS president Malia Bouattia, Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, recently re-elected Deputy Leader of the Greens Amelia Womack  and Guardian columnist Owen Jones, with a video-link appearance by Jeremy Corbyn too.

Unity played a key role during the day, with the two unions expressing mutual support to one another and recognising the interdependent relationship students and teaching staff have with one another.

For the full article go to Bright Green.

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