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“Education is our right, not a privilege”
By Sophie Hack
On 19 November, London was a city filled with frustration, anger and passion. Its streets filled with marchers of all ages, of all walks of life, all with something to say.
The national demonstration was organised by NUS and the University College Union (UCU) and was in support of a number of issues students face, from rising tuition fees, cuts to services, rising rent prices to racism and xenophobia in a post-Brexit Britain.
Tourists and onlookers followed the thousands of students through the 2.4-mile stretch of London from Park Lane to Westminster. Protestors chanted “No Ifs, no buts, no education cuts”, “Theresa May has got to go” and “Tories we’re coming for you” as they approached the houses of Parliament.
After speaking to attendees at the demo, the consensus was that students feel misled and not listened to, and the universities they pay for are not worth their weight in gold.
“The teaching that I get doesn’t even come close to the value of £9,000 a year,” said North London drama student Caitlin Godwin. “It’s hard what would actually meet that number because it is so extortionate.”
Speakers such as reporter Owen Jones, Black Lives Matter supporter Darletta Scruggs and NUS president Malia Bouattia took the stage at the rally. Their speeches summarised the struggle of being up against the political greats who keep finding new ways to make education harder to reach.
Edo Minnott, drama student from Goldsmiths University, said the government needs to realise students’ needs and listen to what they are saying while protesting.
“They say they are listening but they’re not. They listen to the representatives, but they need to listen to the students in the thick of it too.
“I have the belief that MPs know demos such as this one are going to take place, so they conveniently leave, such as Theresa May who was not in London today whilst we walked past Downing Street. I’m concerned that the MPs and the media are trying to avoid demonstrations. They don’t want to reveal this anger.”
As Malia Bouattia so rightfully put it, “we need to be that alternative” to a privatised education, to a government that wrongfully deported 48,000 students, and to one that “scapegoats Muslims and immigrants and unemployed people” in the words of Owen Jones.
The United for Education demo was an event filled with overwhelming solidarity on both educational and social issues. Many protestors held signs and spoke of fears of a fascist regime rearing its head once again. As music student Courtney Cook described on his placard, “we’re caught in a financial landslide with no escape from this f***ed up reality”.
I'm currently studying Media and Communications at Birmingham City University, studying journalism theory as well as the practical side. I specialise in entertainment and music journalism, one of my highlights was interviewing Wheatus last year in a Steakhouse! I'm currently the editor of my university's magazine The Scratch, which covers fashion, sport, entertainment, tech and all aspects of student life. I'm really interested in writing opinion pieces on governmental and social changes that affect young people, as well as students. I believe that more than ever young people have a voice on things that will change their life, and we should utilise this opportunity. After I graduate university, I really want to expand my skills and hit the ground running, and I feel like writing for NUS will help me take that step from student life to real world issues. I want to get out of my comfort zone and explore new fields within the industry and find out what other people's views are. In my spare time, I love playing video games and I'm currently trying to teach myself Japanese.