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Students taking action to save maintenance grants
A snapshot of how students and students’ unions across the UK are taking action to save maintenance grants during our national #CutTheCosts & #GrantsNotDebt lobby on Friday 18 September and beyond.
On Friday 18 September, NUS and over 60 students' unions across the UK took part in a national constituency-based lobby of MPs to fight the government’s plans to scrap maintenance grants.
NUS research has shown that over a third (35 per cent) of students would have chosen not to go to university without the help of a grant.
If the government get their way, these changes will saddle poorer students with yet more debt. But if enough MPs voice their opposition, we can defeat these changes.
Here’s a snapshot of some of the fantastic lobbying done by students on and around the day to win on this issue.
In Birmingham, campaigning group Defend Education Birmingham have called for protests targeted at local Conservative politicians.
Kent Union and Christ Church Students' Union have teamed up to lobby two local Conservative MPs, Julian Brazier and Kelly Tolhurst, and have started their own petition with close to 1,000 students opposing the cuts.
Arts students will be making a trip to Kent to lobby Jo Johnson, the Universities Minister, in his home constituency of Orpington in an effort to hold those directly involved in making these cuts accountable for their decisions.
Leeds Beckett Students’ Union have been campaigning on another grant being cut by the government, the Special Support Grant. Read a blog from the SU President Jay Malpass-Clark for NUS Connect here which explored scrapping this vital support will impact on students with disabilities or care responsibilities especially.
Jo Johnson’s brother, London Mayor and MP for Uxbridge & South Ruislip, Boris Johnson has been called out by Brunel Students’ Union in an effort to build pressure on the Conservative front-bencher to listen to significant noise from students who are demanding for him to make a U-turn.
Elsewhere in London, UCL Union will be heading to Chingford, the constituency of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith to confront him with the argument that we need universal living grants so that every student has enough money to study.
In New Cross, Goldsmiths Students’ Union are turning their attention to Zac Goldsmith, Conservative MP for Richmond. Zac is also a front-runner in the Conservative Mayoral Candidacy race and this action will serve as a reminder that Londoners will not accept a bleaker future for the youth in the capital.
The University of Manchester Students’ Union and The Union MMU have joined forces, contacting four local MPs and are meeting one of those MPs – Jeff Smith (MP for Manchester Withington) - this Friday.
Nearby in Cheshire, Free Education Manchester will be lobbying Chancellor George Osborne.
In East Anglia, the Union of UEA students will be organising a demonstration and petition hand in to Norwich North MP Chloe Smith.
Sabbatical officers from Oxford University Students’ Union are meeting with both of the city’s MPs – Nicola Blackwood and Rt. Hon Andrew Smith - on Friday and will be presenting them with the results of a student consultation which demonstrated why these grants are a vital source of support for their students.
Reading University Students’ Union have been busy contacting several local MPs in their local areas and have also set up their own petition to their VC, Sir David Bell, asking him to condemn the government’s plans.
Warwick Students’ Union have been lobbying Chris White, local MP for Warwick and Leamington Spa and an influential voice in parliament, to raise a debate in the Commons. Campaigning group Warwick For Free Education will also be focussing their efforts on Mr. White on Friday.
Bangor Students’ Union’s President Fflur Elin will be meeting with Plaid Cymru MP Hywe Williams to lobby for solidarity from the nations on this issue which could spread and effect Welsh students in the near future.
At Cardiff University Students’ Union, President Claire Blakeway and fellow officers have also made great leaps, having already met with Cardiff Central MP Jo Stephens, who has pledged her support to fight the axing of the maintenance grant.
You can follow the social media action from this campaign via our #CutTheCosts live feed right here and via the #GrantsNotDebt hastag on Twitter.
Feeling inspired? Take action instantly by tweeting your MP via the NUS website and piling on the pressure around this important issue!