Thursday, 25 November 2010

Second Day of Protests Against UK Education Cuts

There was a general day of action responding to the UK government's proposals to cut the teaching grant for most academic subjects and charge the full cost of delivery of these entirely to students yesterday. In addition, the government has proposed ending the Education Maintenance Allowance, a small sum of money that is paid to students who are studying for qualifications that are necessary to enter university. The day of action led to demonstrations across the country from London and Manchester to Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield and Lancaster to such unusual hot-beds of activism as Bury! 

In addition to this a number of universities are currently undergoing occupations. The usual demands include a statement from the vice-chancellors of their opposition to the government proposals and an opening of the books of the institutions, two very good demands. One of the latest to go into occupation is Roehampton University though it is has to be said that the situation is currently very mutable with occupations spreading by the day and it being virtually impossible to entirely keep up with the news. In the demonstration in London 10,000 people took part which, on a day when activities were happening across the rest of the country, is no mean number and led the police to adopt "kettling" techniques which mean enforced ways of "containing" protestors by not allowing them to leave narrowly defined areas, often for hours at a time. This practice was condemned just last year by one of the parties now in government as a gross infringement of human rights. 

In other news another blog recording news and views against the government approach has emerged: it is called Storm Breaking Upon the University and is worth following.


Anonymous said...

This is of special concern, I think, for philosophers. It's unfortunate but true, that any cuts in educational funding will most likely fall squarely on the shoulders of the humanities. Philosophers and linguists don't invent vaccines or study rocket science, and as such are regarded as less vital to society - I would beg to differ of course.

That being said, I'm glad to see that the UK, at least, is making progress in how it handles peaceful protest. Here in the U.S. we can only hope that our government will follow suit.

Gary Banham said...

Thanks for your comment. Since writing this posting there has now been another day of action (30/11) which, given the cold weather, was pretty impressive in size! I agree with your comment that the situation is particularly important for philosophers and those working in the humanities. Under the UK government proposals all teaching grant money from the government will be abolished for these subjects (and most others with a few select examples) with the cost transferred entirely to students. Given this it is particularly important academics in these areas join with students in mobilising resistance.

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