Come clean on tuition fees
On the 11th of November 2009, a bus with 38 students left Canterbury to join the protest on tuition fees in London. Thirty of them were studying at Christ Church and leading them was the Students’ Union Vice President (Welfare and Education) Steve Godwin.
The protest in London was organised in less than 2 days. “Every delegate in an SU was given the heads up from NUS on Monday afternoon. When the government released their papers on Monday morning, we were rallied for support. The debate is about local students voting, having a say and being listened to,” said Steve Godwin.
The government have considered raising the fees to almost double. Local MP’s in student occupied towns have kept quiet before the general election; however students demanded answers. They wanted to know who they will be voting for and made it clear that their vote will be based on which candidate takes students’ views into account.
Usman Ali, part of the NUS Executive Committee, said: “Obviously, the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, have made an agreement not to discuss tuition fees until the general elections. So we are hoping to get MPs to sign to come clean on fees”.
Wes Streeting, President of NUS, encouraged students to raise their voice and pressured the Minister of Higher Education to come to the Houses of Parliament that afternoon in order to make a statement regarding the fees. “The most important thing is that we are absolutely united in halting and reversing the marketisation of Higher Education”. Wes continues to say that students must “mobilise and come together, so in a very real tangible sense, every single candidate from every single political party will be absolutely terrified of the student vote at the next election.”
Chris Mark, the Vice-President of Hull Student Union said: “There is no excuse or compromise: we want free education. “
Students went into the Houses of Parliament to talk to the MPs and to the Minister of Higher Education, who gave up his agenda that afternoon in order to attend the meeting.
Wes Streeting directed his speech towards the Minister, stating, “We are making sure that every single politician understands, in no uncertain terms, that it is absolutely unacceptable to say nothing, especially with the general election approaching. “
Minister David Lammy responded, “it is us (The Labour Party) that increased the proportion of students that have gone up to 43%. We are committed to ensure that poorer young people go to University.”
In response to Mr Lammy MP, Wes Streeting stated: “While David Lammy was speaking, saying that MPs cannot sign the NUS fees pledge, Labour MPs were tripping in and signing the pledge while he sat there. Today has sent a very clear message to all political parties and all candidates ahead at the general election that we’ll hold them to account, and if they don’t vote with students, students won’t vote with them.”
The Minister however pointed out the students need to be informed: “Students need to know what the outcome in relation to employment is in a particular course. Those of you that are doing medicine or some science subject will recognise that they are overall more expensive than humanities,”
Such a situation may lead to a market of varying priced courses. This could influence young people into making their choice of degree on cost rather than course.
“Thus far and no further as far as I’m concerned; I support the NUS proposal,” said one MP, in which moment the room erupted in applause.” The 11th of November ’09 demonstrated the power of students, who are united when fighting for the same thing.
Wes Streeting ended his speech in encouraging students to continue to fight. “You can help by registering to vote, using your vote, writing to candidates, putting the pressure on.”
Popularity: 3% [?]