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United for Education: NUS and UCU announce national demonstration

Thursday 21 July 2016 NUS News

Students and academics set to rally for free, accessible and quality further and higher education this November.

NUS and the University and College Union (UCU) have today announced plans for a national demonstration in central London on 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.

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.

This announcement comes following the second reading of the Higher Education and Research Bill in parliament on Tuesday 19 July, during which MPs voted to progress the bill - which includes controversial plans to increase university fees and make it easier for for-profit education providers operate in the UK.

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’.”  

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.”