Students take action against tuition fee rises

Goldsmiths Students Union members demonstrate against the proposed cuts with a 'funeral' for the university. Photo: Kirsten Forkert

Students and members of staff of universities along the East London Lines are making plans to revolt against the government’s decision to triple tuition fees.

Goldsmiths students started the ball rolling yesterday by occupying Deptford Town Hall (part of the college).

Arfah Farooq, one of the occupying students, said: “This is just the start. We are the first to occupy but we expect others to follow.”

Goldsmiths Communications and Campaigns Officer James Haywood said: ‘We’re here to make a statement to the government, that we’re not going to lie down and accept their attack on higher education. We’re also making a statement to Goldsmiths Senior Management. They’re not taking the threat to higher education seriously and they’re not backing our anti-cuts campaign. “

In a meeting yesterday afternoon, the atmosphere was definitely one of revolt. Banners saying; “Education for the masses, not the ruling classes” and: “They say cut back, we say fight back” were up next to the speakers, who ranged from James Haywood to UCU’s Sean Wallis and NUS’ Ed Marsh.

Simon Hardy, a student from Westminster University, spoke passionately: “this is a declaration of war” he said.

Hugh Jones, registrar and secretary at Goldsmiths, when asked whether he agreed with the tuition fee rise said: “Of course not, of course not.” When asked why he wouldn’t back the SU’s campaigns he said: “At the moment we’re trying to deal with these changes the best we can.”

Sam Creighton, Queen Mary’s SU vice-president of Communications, said: “We absolutely plan to be as involved as we can be. We’re also organising an event tomorrow (Nov. 4th) in Queen Mary’s Library Square from 12 o’clock on.”

A spokesperson for Goldsmiths said: “Goldsmiths’ Deptford Town Hall Building was occupied by students on Wednesday afternoon, in protest against higher education funding cuts and the prospect of increased tuition fees.”

“Staff members based in the Deptford Town Hall Building have been encouraged to come to work as usual and where it is not possible for them to access their offices, we are making alternative arrangements.”

Next week on November 10th, there will be a national march organised by the National Union of Students (NUS) and University and College Union (UCU.

All the Student Unions for these universities have commented that they support the NUS march and plan to take action within their respective universities.

Greenwich University’s SU commented that they are committed to get as many of their students over to the NUS march next week.

The students were responding to earlier announcements about the rise in tuition fees, made by David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science.

It was announced on Tuesday morning that yearly tuition fees will range from £6,000 to £9,000, and universities charging over £6,000 will have to make plans to appeal to students from poorer backgrounds.

Willetts also announced that there will be a £150 million scholarships programme.

UCU and NUS National Student and Staff March: Wednesday 10th November, Horse Guards Avenue, 11.15am.

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