UCU has joined up with sister union the National Union of Students (NUS) for a mass demonstration in defence of free, accessible and quality further and higher education and to demand an end to privatisation and cuts in universities and colleges. Staff, students and supporters from across the education sector and trade union movement will march in London in what promises to be a huge show of opposition to government policy on post-school education.
Set for Saturday 19 November, the demonstration – ‘United For Education’ – will represent a rallying call for free, accessible and quality further and higher education across the UK, and to demand an end to the marketisation of university and college education.
Education is under attack like never before. FE colleges have closed, jobs have been lost and students are being forced deeper and deeper into debt by a government happy to see companies making profit off the back of student poverty. It’s time to take a stand.
So on 19 November we will be marching in central London under the banner of United for Education, to demand free, quality further and higher education, accessible to all.
Don’t miss this chance to make the national Further Education voice heard – ask about #Nov19 at your union branch and sign up to the Facebook event.
What is the demo about?
Free, good quality education is a right for all, regardless of ability to pay and more than at any time before we have to fight for that.
FE colleges have been cut to the core, with huge job losses and course closures, and a desperate need for investment that simply isn’t being provided.
In HE, tuition fees are rising and the government is forcing universities to run like businesses. Students are facing higher debt than ever before with maintenance grants and NHS bursaries scrapped, student loan terms changed and tuition fees set to reach £12,000 by 2026.
We cannot sit idly by whilst education is undermined. We have to take action.
How can you get involved?
Join us! By marching in large numbers, united with students, we’ll send a clear message to Theresa May that we are a force too powerful to ignore.
We will show our support for international students and staff who are suffering disproportionately in this post-Brexit climate of heightened xenophobia. We will also demonstrate that we are United for Education across the world, as our demo is part of a series of student-led events taking place globally during November.
What are our policy asks?
We have three key asks:
• To invest in our 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
What else is planned to support the demo?
This demo is one tactic in a wider strategy, which involves constructive engagement and lobbying as well as direct action, to help us win a better deal for students. It will:
• Send a clear message to the government and Theresa May to invest in further and higher education.
• Be part of a longer term campaign and help to recruit activists.
• Show solidarity with international students and staff
• Contribute to a series of student-led events taking place globally during November
With coordinated education demonstrations due to take place in numerous countries around the world, the demonstration will also represent a call for international solidarity and opposition to all forms of racism and xenophobia. Students and lecturers in the UK in particular will be calling for government to ensure that universities and colleges remain open, accessible and inclusive following the Brexit vote.
Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, said:
“Staff and students are united in their defence of high-quality education and we will be taking our message to the streets in November. Increased university fees and the green light for all sorts of profit-driven colleges to enter UK higher education do not represent a good deal for students or staff. The government is pursuing a restructure in our further education colleges that risks narrowing choice for students and merging colleges around the country.
“Staff pay has been held down in recent years, while the gender pay gap has risen and universities have introduced more of the sort of contracts you would associate with Sports Direct. All the while those at the top have continued to enjoy inflation-busting pay rises.
“At a time when we need to show the post-Brexit world that Britain remains open and welcoming to international students, we are delighted our event is happening alongside events around the world.”
Malia Bouattia, NUS national president, said:
“The government is running at pace with a deeply risky ideologically-led market experiment in further and higher education, and students and lecturers, who will suffer most as a result, are clear that this can’t be allowed to happen”
“The government’s Higher Education and Research Bill proposes opening up higher education to for-profit institutions, much like Trump University, and opens the door for universities to raise their fees ever higher. This week, before the Bill has even been properly debated in parliament let alone passed, universities are already advertising fees above £9000.
“The attack on education does not end there. The further education college review process risks college closures across the country, having a particular impact on the most disadvantaged students. We simply cannot put up with this
“Students are clear that enough is enough, and will be marching for a positive alternative, ‘United For Education’.”