Image: Shaun Liew

Warwick students join national protest against Higher Education Bill

A demonstration to protest against university reforms proposed in the Higher Education (HE) Bill was held in London this Saturday, 19 November.

Warwick Students’ Union (SU) organised transportation for students for the cost of £5 for those who wanted to attend the demonstration. However, towards the end of the day there were delays and students were left waiting after protest ended.

Hope Worsdale, Warwick SU Education Officer, said 111 people from Warwick attended this year’s demonstration. This was an increase from last year where there were 102.

The HE Bill includes plans to increase university fees beyond £9,000 a year dependent on performance against a new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

It also plans to increase competition in the HE sector by allowing private providers to enter the market without Students’ Unions.

Claire Coulthard, a first-year Chemistry student, expressed how important the demonstration was in giving students the opportunity to voice their opinions.

She added: “A lot of people feel strong about this, but they may not express it. That right to express is important.”

It’s an enforced state marketisation, a neoliberal project to bring in marketised metrics, marketised pressures, allowing universities to fail, increasing fees beyond £9000.

Connor Woodman, History Masters Student

Students gathered for the demo from 11am onwards at Hyde Park and began marching at 12.30pm. They marched towards Hyde Park Corner Tube station, to Trafalgar Square and then to the Houses of Parliament before settling beside the Victoria Tower Gardens. The march ended with a series of speeches at 3pm.

Many other organisations also joined students at the demo. This included Stand Up to Racism, Socialist Workers, The People’s Assembly, Socialist Students and Stop The War Coalition.

Connor Woodman, a History Master’s student, commented: “there are an increasing number of private providers driving down quality and learning conditions.”

“It’s an enforced state marketisation, a neoliberal project to bring in marketised metrics, marketised pressures, allowing universities to fail, increasing fees beyond £9000.”

He added: “It is transforming from a system that makes you critical and able to reflect on society, into degree mills that just follow you into the corporate economy.”

When asked how he thought the demo was going to go, he said: “it’s an NUS demo so will probably be more tame than last year’s one run by National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, which was livelier.”

Students march in London against the HE bill. Image: Shaun Liew

The National Union of Students (NUS) and the University and College Union (UCU) were also present to give out placards for free.

Free food was provided throughout the day by a vendor who gave out rice and vegetarian stew with lentils and cakes. There were also stewards there to guide the protesters.

Emma, a first-year English student, told the Boar that she was there primarily due to the increasing prices of student fees which she felt should be fully funded by the government.

She added: “We’re not going to change anything overnight just by doing a protest, but I just hope that if we keep applying pressure on the government they will start recognising us more”.

On Monday, 21 November, students will be protesting again near Parliament while the House of Commons participate in the third reading of the HE Bill.


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