Yesterday, more than one thousand students and academics took to the streets of London to demand free, accessible and quality education for all.
Organised jointly by the NUS and UCU (University and College Union), this year’s National Student Demonstration represented a diverse range of aims, from opposing “all forms of racism and xenophobia” post-Brexit to denouncing the Teaching Excellence Framework, a new government-introduced ranking system which will directly link to future tuition fee increases.
London Student met protesters and passers-by to hear their views on why it may be more critical than ever to save the future of higher education.
Ian White, student at Leeds University
“I’d say the main issue concerning students is the Higher Education Bill, the marketisation of the education and increasing fees. Universities are becoming more like businesses than academic institutions, which I think will decrease the quality of teaching.”
Emily and Holly, students at Manchester University
“We’re here to protest the uni fees going up – that’s the most important issue for us. It would prevent loads of people we know from coming to university. We want the government to stop making education such a privilege.”
Christine, student at Manchester University
“The main issue is that universities are going to uncap tuition fees. I know for a fact that Manchester University make a lot of money, and they do not need to raise fees. It’s just ridiculous.”
Matt, PhD student at Oxford University and Momentum member
“I disagree with everything the government’s doing for education, and for young people generally. We need to fight against the TEF [Teaching Excellence Framework], fees, increasing amounts of debt – it all has to change, we need free education. Students have won in the past: we fought against the previous government white paper for higher education, we had an incredible movement in 2010 that radicalised a whole generation of students. A protest is more than about what we can win; it’s about how we can develop people politically. What’s happening to education is happening to society in general, like with the privatisation of the NHS.”
VJ, student at University of Edinburgh
“If the government are planning to bring in TEF, which will link further increases in tuition fees to results from the National Student Survey, then we’re going to have a spiralling education system that cripples students with debt. Education should not just be a privilege for the few, but a right for the masses.”
Philip, lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London
“I’m here to support free education. I would hope that the government will consider increasing funding for universities to make education more accessible to as many young people as possible.”
Rebecca Lewis, President of City, University of London UCU
“We’re demonstrating against government attacks on education, from cuts to funding, the Higher Education Bill and student fees too. We hope to show that people who work in education are united with students are united in anger at the government and the way it’s treating education. One of the really important issues in higher education is the casualisation of staff contracts, which we really need to avoid.”
Steve, lecturer at School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
“We’re faced with so many different cuts and attacks by the government; the foremost one is TEF, which I think will destroy higher education. I want to hopefully raise awareness of the problems facing the higher education sector, and put some pressure on the government to change things.”