Students around the UK today begin a week of action calling on government and universities to ‘Come Clean’ on their plans for higher education.
The week of protest, lobbying and debate will focus around a national walkout on Wednesday 14 March at midday on campuses in every part of the UK and will see students take part marches, rallies, teach-ins, discussions, petition signings and other campaign actions.
Amongst many other actions around the country students at Kings' College London will hold teach-ins and stunts on Wednesday; students at University of Sussex will walkout on Wednesday and hold discussions about the white paper before lobbying local MPs on Friday; students from University of Liverpool and Liverpool Hope University will hold a rally on Wednesday; and throughout the week students at University of Manchester will be asked to sign cheques and add them to a money tree stating how much they have to pay for their education.
Students will demonstrate their anger at ministers who have not made clear their plans for increased marketisation of higher education, or how they will fix the student support system that sees the gap between government support and the cost of being a student rising to over £8,000 a year*, and are pushing universities towards partial fee-waivers rather than the bursaries that help vulnerable students when they need it most.
Students will also be protesting about the hidden costs of university education such as books, trips, and other essential equipment like lab coats which universities don’t make clear students will be liable for.
NUS President, Liam Burns, said:
“We need a national debate on changes to higher education and this week we will remind ministers that we are watching what they’re doing.
“When the government quietly dropped plans for a higher education bill earlier this year they didn’t drop their plans. They simply removed the opportunity for the kind of scrutiny that has been afforded to changes to the NHS.
“Students, parents, lecturers and anyone with a stake in education wants to know what the government and our institutions have in store for higher education and demand that they come clean.”
The following is a comprehensive summary of events taking place around the country.
University of Bradford Students’ Union have focused on supporting student groups, such as the anti-cuts society. Students have a walkout planned for Wednesday and the SU will be distributing posters and asking students to sign a petition, which they will deliver to the Vice-Chancellor. Bradford College Students’ Union are also taking part in the walkout, for a city-wide demonstration of solidarity. University of Warwick Students' Union are setting up a cage at different locations around campus next week. They will be collating photographs of students 'caged by costs', with hidden course costs receipts filled out by students, to present to their Vice-Chancellor. They also have a community teach-out organised with lecturers on the day of the walkout and have invited local MPs to discuss the issues with students. Warwick SU will be using the week to encourage students to lobby their MPs and will be continuing conversations with their senior management on student finances.
University of Sussex Students’ Union have a walkout planned for Wednesday, during which they’re holding a general assembly to discuss higher education funding. They’re holding an open discussion on the HE White Paper and an on Friday at which students will be able to lobby local MPs. University of Goldsmiths Students’ Union are encouraging students to walk out on Wednesday and are holding a rally and talk, with workshops and open discussions before the day of action. The Central School of Speech and Drama Students’ Union are writing a protest song, similar to the rewritten version of CeLo's Forget You posted on YouTube. ULU has organised a rally on Wednesday at ULU, which many students’ unions in London plan to attend.
University of Liverpool Guild of Students are teaming up withLiverpool Hope University Students’ Union to organise a rally on the morning of the day of action and a panel discussion on the effects of the HE White Paper in the afternoon – with representatives from both unions and the University and College Union (UCU). Liverpool University students have also engaged students from FE colleges in Liverpool. Liverpool Hope students have encouraged their election candidates to engage students with the campaign and the feedback has been extremely positive. The union have invited their Vice-Chancellor to a question time event with students.
University of Kingston Students’ Union are suspending their elections and getting candidates to carry out Come Cleancampaigning activities. The union has teamed up with professional street artists from the Graffiti Life Company, to paint a huge protest mural at the Knights Park campus on Wednesday. There will be guest speakers from UCU and the Education Activist Network. Leeds University Students’ Union have invited their Vice-Chancellor to answer questions posed by students and Leeds Metropolitan University Students’ Union are holding a GOATing session on student fees.
University of Brighton Students’ Union will be running sessions across their five campuses to gain students feedback on course costs. King’s College London Students’ Union council have passed a motion to have a 'big day out' on Wednesday, including teach-ins, stunts, and aerial photographs for the press. They have also got students to write down on price tags how out of pocket they are due to hidden course costs. They have attached the price tags to a giant pound sign which they will present to their Principal during the week of action, urging him to Come Clean on funding.
Birmingham City University Students’ Union will be holding a walkout, campaigning at the faculty of Technology, Engineering and the Environment on staff redundancies and spending cuts, as well as campaigning in Birmingham on hidden costs, with students from Birmingham Institute of Art and Design.Queen Mary University of London Students’ Union will be taking photos of students holding notes of their total course costs, which they’ll collate together into a booklet to present to the institution’s management. This will feed into existing dialogue they have with the institution. Queen Mary will also be staging a walkout on Wednesday, with a rally in the morning, supported by UCU, particularly a petition calling for a halt to the restructure of the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.
University of Bristol Students’ Union are encouraging students to tell the government, in the spirit of Jimmy McMillan (who ran for New York Mayor), that the student debt is too damn high! They have a protest organised for Wednesday, at which they’ll be taking photos of students holding debt placards, which they’ll present to the university management. In a major Come Clean win, the union has persuaded the university to reinstate and increase its bursaries programme. University of Manchester Students’ Union are making a money tree, for which they’ll ask students to sign cheques stating how much they have to pay for their education. They are also holding a rally together with Manchester Metropolitan University Students’ Union, after which they’ll be encouraging students to attend a Move Your Money media stunt in the city centre (combining the issue of student fees with the financial crisis). There will be a talk at Manchester University on the issue of stopping cuts to education funding and on Thursday the union will be asking students to sign a Defend the Right to Protest petition.
The University of East Anglia Students Union have made a giant piggy bank and will be conducting GOATing exercises with their students about hidden course costs, which they’ll use to put pressure on their Vice-Chancellor to Come Clean on the issue. Newman, Cambridgeand many more SUs are using the Hidden Costs web widget on their websites, building evidence of the real cost of education to students. University Campus Suffolk (UCS) are working with FE colleagues at Suffolk New College and Suffolk One to organise joint Come Clean campaign activities, particularly on hidden course costs, such as letter-writing to local MPs.
Edinburgh University Students' Association are holding discussions during the week of action to increase student awareness of the government's HE reforms. University ofBournemouth Students’ Union are holding a ‘Talk Out’ with their Vice-Chancellor, Deputy-Vice Chancellor and two School Deans on Monday. Anglia Ruskin Students’ Union will be campaigning on hidden course costs, as well as University of Ulster Students’ Union, who have organised a ‘Money Week’.
University of York Students’ Union have organised a rally at the university on Wednesday, with speeches and a march to the city centre, meeting up with students from York St John Students’ Union and York College Students’ Union. York St John Students’ Union intend to lobby their Vice-Chancellor to make changes to their 2013/14 Access Agreement – to change fee waivers back to bursaries. They will also be encouraging students to write letters to their MPs. Cheadle and Marple Sixth Form College Students’ Union will be holding a protest outside the college gates on Wednesday and they have a talk with guest speakers as well. They have some other actions planned and will be encouraging students to write to their MPs.
NUS (National Union of Students) is a voluntary membership organisation which makes a real difference to the lives of students and its member students' unions.
We are a confederation of 600 students' unions, amounting to more than 95 per cent of all higher and further education unions in the UK. Through our member students' unions, we represent the interests of more than seven million students.