Monthly Archives: December 2010

Reflecting Back and Looking Forward!

Reflecting back – Thursday’s Demo in London

Nottingham Students against Fees and Cuts would like to thank everyone who came on our coaches down to the big demonstration in London on Thursday the 9th of December. The 35,000 who peacefully marched and gathered in Parliament Square (where they were then kettled) sent a clear message to this government that the passionate fight against the ludicrous fees and savage cuts will continue.  Media coverage has focused disproportionately on the incident involving the royals and has paid little attention to the fact that one protester needed emergency brain surgery after being hit by the police while another was dragged from his wheel chair. We thought these links about the day were interesting:

Press conference that deals with issue of police/protester “violence”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6y26EGMP_7s

BBC Newsnight coverage:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/paulmason/

Protester needing brain surgery:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/10/student-operation-tuition-fees-protest

Interview with and article by protester who was pulled from his wheelchair:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXNJ3MZ-AUo

http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2010/12/15/jody-mcintyre-who%E2%80%99s-apathetic-now/

Article that assesses the media bias:

http://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/new-in-ceasefire/counterspin-why-is-the-press-unable-to-report-protests-accurately/

Looking forward – the New Year!

Nottingham Students against Fees and Cuts have been excitedly planning the events, activities, workshops and actions that will take place in the New Year. Anyone who has ideas, energy, time and passion is encouraged to email nsafac@gmail.com to get involved. By working with students, lecturers, pupils, teachers, trade unions, parents and workers from across Nottingham we intend to continue to build and be a part of a movement that will inevitably defeat this Con-Dem-ned government and their vicious plans to destroy education and the public sector.

Enjoy the end of year celebrations everyone and remember, we will fight and we will win!

Solidarity from Mexico

To our British sisters and brothers in struggle

Please welcome our solidarity from Mexico. We have known about the heroic struggle you are undertaking in defense of free education in your country, and we salute it enthusiastically. In Mexico, same as in the rest of the world, we all suffer from the attacks to public education from a government working for the big capitalistic groups. Recently, our government has decided to allocate a large portion of the budget for education to the absurd war against the narco that has led to the murder of thousands of citizens, the majority of them being youngsters. The struggle you are leading is an example for students that fight against state policies to restrict access to education to millions of young people all around the world.

We will stay alert about your struggle and we are here for all the support we can offer to you from Mexico.

Revolutionary greetings for you all!

Students of the Socialist Workers’ Party of Mexico (POS-México)

Solidarity from the National Federation of Geography Students of Argentina

The National Federation of Geography Students of Argentina supports unconditionally the occupation of university buildings and other means of strike led by students and scholars of the University of Nottingham against education cuts and privatization of the Conservative-led coalition in power. As an organization that has the fight for free and public education for all as a core objective, we send you our warmest greetings of solidarity in these times of struggle. We know that the political environment is not helping you, due to the broadly apathetic attitude of today’s British society, but it is delightful to see from the South that you have stroke the political scenery with a strength that surprised everyone, and to see that there is already evidence of steps forward in the lobbying of politicians who will decide on tuition fees this Thursday and later as well.

Our Federation was born in the year 2000, as part of the popular struggles against cuts in education, as well as in health and other key welfare areas. In those years we made it to stop the introduction of fees in public universities, and thanks to those mobilizations today our universities are still public and free. In other words, we won! That is why we want to tell you that.. it is possible, comrades. Struggling never is worthless, and the taste of victory is unbeatable. You will win this fight, and all around the world we will celebrate this victory for public and free education for all.

We will keep an eye on the development of these events, and please let us know how we can help.

From the land that gave birth to Che Guevara we say… Hasta la victoria siempre!

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF GEOGRAPHY STUDENTS OF ARGENTINA

Message of support from the School of Politics and International Relations

The undersigned staff and postgraduate researchers in the School of Politics and International Relations fully support students in their peaceful protests against cuts in public funding for Further and Higher Education as well as the planned introduction of up to £9000 tuition fees per annum for university students in England. This is a further erosion of the culture and society of higher education and intensifies the process of commodification by subjecting education to the interests of the market. We urge the Vice-Chancellor to express opposition to the current government’s destructive agenda for higher education.

David Bell
Prof. Andreas Bieler
Michael Brodie
Dr. Tony Burns
Peter S. Cruttenden
Deirdre Duffy
Ertan Erol
Dr. Catherine Gegout
Chris Hesketh
Maria Urbina Montana
Dr. Adam Morton
Dr. Vanessa Pupavac
Dr. Matthew Rendall
Dr. Bettina Renz
Elif Uzgoren

Demo in London – Thursday 9th December

Hello everyone,

The coaches for Thursday are filling up very fast. We currently have 4 coaches. Unfortunately, if you turn up without booking a seat, you run the risk of not getting a place, as those who have booked seats will obviously be given priority.

So that we have a clear idea of who is coming and so that we can ensure there are enough seats, please email nsafac@gmail.com to book your seat as soon as possible.

Thursday will be a massive national demonstration against the Fees. It is our opportunity to really make it clear to the Condem government that we will not tolerate this attack on the education of future generations.

Press release: Students expose Vice Chancellor’s regressive views and University’s lies

Today saw an unprecedented dialogue at the University of Nottingham that exposed the gulf between the views of students and staff and those of their Vice Chancellor. The open meeting was a condition of the temporary suspension of the students’ occupation of the Great Hall, and had a Question Time format with speakers from Notts Students Against Fees and Cuts (NSAFC, who organised the occupation), the Students’ Union and the Vice Chancellor of the university.

Following a lively and well-attended rally, the meeting opened with a statement from each participant. Dr Greenaway, the Vice Chancellor, who recently accompanied David Cameron on his trip to China, focused on the nuances of the difference between fees and a graduate tax and claimed that the argument was not about whether students should contribute, only how much and when. The representative of NSAFC explained the principles of ‘education as a social as well as a personal good’ that guided the demands of the occupiers and the collaborative, educational nature of that occupation. The Students’ Union President also stated that he was against the raise in tuition fees and supported ‘the cause’ of the occupiers.

The many students and staff in attendance asked a series of well-informed questions including those about the causes of the economic crisis, the purpose of education, the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance, the refusal of the Vice Chancellor to lobby against cuts and fee changes, and whether he would take a cut to his salary of more than £300,000 pa in order to free up money for bursaries and research funding. Not one question was put forward in support of fees and cuts, despite the open nature of the meeting.

During 90 minutes of open debate, Greenaway admitted that he believed Higher Education to be a privilege not a right and agreed with markets and a tiered system in university education. The question now is whether the Vice Chancellor can maintain this stance against the clear will of his staff and students. Relationships of respect and trust have already been damaged by the fact, officially acknowledged at today’s meeting, that the university gave false information to the occupiers that a wedding was booked to take place in the occupied room (an assertion that was a significant factor in persuading the occupiers to suspend their action).

After the meeting one undergraduate explained that ‘The University has already lied to us. We made it clear today that we will give Greenaway the chance to take our views forward, but will continue to take direct action until the University and the government change their policies. This debate has shown that we are the true voice of the University. The next step is the protest in London this Thursday when MPs vote on fee rises.’

NSAFC, which includes students from schools, Further Education and both Nottingham universities, continues to demand that the University lobby against fee rises, funding cuts and the end of EMA, as well as opening its books and ensuring no redundancies for staff. In refusing the first of these demands, Greenaway argued that there was no point continuing to lobby against funding cuts because ‘the die is now cast’. The students countered that the mass national action underway shows that policy can and must change.

If you want to find out more about the campaign or book coach tickets for Thursday’s demo you can contact NSAFC at nsafac@gmail.com / http://www.nsafc.wordpress.com

Opening Statement of Notts Students Against Fees and Cuts at Monday’s Open Forum Meeting

I have been asked to present on behalf of Notts Students Against Cuts and Fees. We are committed to collective decision-making and have members at institutions city-wide, so I’m here not as a leader or representative, but simply to explain the views of the group.

We are committed to high-quality, inclusive education as a social as well as a personal good: to education as a right not a privilege. We have been taking action over recent weeks to defend those principles.

After the Second World War it was recognised that the people of this country deserved education and public services that offered a human, dignified standard of living to all citizens. A covenant was made with the people that promised that each coming generation would have a better deal and better life chances than their parents. In Higher Education this saw its incarnation through free courses and maintenance grants. Students gained knowledge, critical thinking and a sense of community through their university studies and repaid society through the social value of their work and through a progressive tax system. Under this model, Higher Education, while still most accessible to the wealthy, saw greater and more fairly spread participation than at any other time in history. Members of the government and the management of this and other universities reaped the benefits but are now preparing to break that covenant (already damaged by New Labour’s introduction of capped fees) and tell the next generation that they do not deserve the same treatment.

This is not necessary and there are alternatives. Despite the fact that the current financial crisis was caused by the greed of bankers, mortgage lenders and big business and could be addressed by the scrapping of trident or the proper enforcement of corporate taxes, it has been decided that those who will pay for the crisis will be ordinary people. Public sector workers, benefits claimants, school children, people with disabilities, asylum seekers and students are losing their jobs and essential services while the richest thousand in the UK amassed an extra 80 billion of wealth last year.

Tuition fees of £9,000 per year would undoubtedly deter many from daring to believe that they could enter Higher Education and would saddle all students from normal backgrounds with a lifetime of debt, which they would very likely still be paying when it came to sending their own children to university. If the measures to be voted on this Thursday pass into law, then the future of millions of young and returning potential students and the social cohesiveness of our society will be irrevocably damaged. But it’s not just tuition fees. The end of the Education Maintenance Allowance and Adult Learning Grants; the withdrawal of teaching funding in Arts and Humanities subjects; the loss of much of the funding for English for Speakers of Other Languages, along with swathes of other regressive measures all tend the same way. If they come into being we will see a less independent, less academically rigorous, less inclusive and less socially meaningful system of education.

It is incomprehensible that those steering the best universities in the country can wish to see that picture become a reality. That is why we are asking the Vice Chancellor today to commit to the following action:

1. Lobby the Russell Group and the government and issue a statement condemning all cuts to Higher Education and the EMA and the rise in tuition fees
2. Implement a complete open-book policy in regard to existing budget constraints
3. Ensure no redundancies for teaching, research or support staff

It was in order to bring about these aims that we went into occupation at the University of Nottingham. While today is about the issues, not the occupation, the fact that this meeting is taking place because of that occupation means that it merits comment.

The occupation was undertaken because the university had failed to engage with its students and staff on these vital issues and because the need to fight the measures was becoming daily more urgent. The occupation was suspended during its fourth day after negotiations to secure this meeting. Our demands had not been met but we believed that the opportunity for all students and staff, not only those who were part of our occupation, to talk directly to their Vice Chancellor in front of the media and urge him to defend their education had to be given priority. We have had to take on trust that the views expressed in today’s meeting will be used constructively. There has been a suspension of our occupation and not an end to our struggle. We will continue to take action until the policies of the university and government have been reversed.

The occupation was a fantastic example of what can be achieved by people working together, not only because it compelled the university’s management to engage with the true university – its staff, students and community – in unprecedented fashion, but also because of the culture of learning, co-operation and respect by which it operated. It was a space for real education through dynamic lectures and workshops, a space where young people were able to to manage their community collectively, a space where food and resources belonged to all, a space where all views were heard and respected. It also had powerful meaning outside the university. We received hundreds of visits, donations and messages of solidarity. These came from teachers and other staff of the university who could see that our struggle was also to defend their jobs and an institution for which they could work with pride. They came from FE and school students who knew it was their future for which we were fighting. They came from unionists, ex-students, ordinary people from around the country and groups from around the world. They supported us because they could see that what we value is what they too value – a university that belongs to the community and a country that cares about all its citizens equally.

We ask now for one more body to offer its solidarity and that is the management of university that we are fighting to defend and improve.

Message of support from the School of Modern Languages and Cultures

The undersigned academic and administrative staff in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures fully support students in their protests against 80% cuts in public funding of Arts and Humanities subjects taught in universities and against the plans to introduce £6000 to £9000 fees per annum for university students in England starting in 2012. This is no policy for a modern, civilized, democratic society. The plans are extremely retrogressive and are being rushed through Parliament without due consideration for the numerous pernicious consequences, by individuals who themselves paid no university fees. This is an attack on university culture as developed in this country for over more than a century.

Leilani April
Professor Stephen Bamforth
Dr Heike Bartel
Dr Mike Berry
Jill Bramston
Professor Rosemary Chapman
Janice Clark
Dr Mac Daly
Professor Catherine Davies
Dr Suzanne Dow
Mary Ellerby
Dr Elizabeth Evans
Dr Rebecca Ford
Dr Siggy Frank
Dr Mark Gallagher
Christopher Gardiner
Professor Dirk Gottsche
Dr Eduardo Guevara
Dr Zahera Harb
Sangeeta Handa
James Haywood
Dr Nicki Hitchcott
Professor Andrew Hoskins
Anne Howe
Professor Chris Johnson
Professor Tony Kapcia
Jane Kerrigan
Catherine Lovesy
Dr John Marks
Professor Bernard McGuirk
Dr Polly McMichael
Dr Ahmed Meliebary
Dr Bram Mertens
Dr Franziska Meyer
Professor Mark Millington
Dr Rachel Palfreyman
Dr Tracey Potts
Dr Jeremy Roe
Frank Ruf
Sue Ruszczynski
Heather Savage
Dr Katherine Shingler
Dr Gareth Stockey
Professor Matthias Uecker
Lindsay Wilmshurst-Smith
Dr Xiaohui Yuan
Dr David Norris
Dr Vladislava Ribnikar

Campaign Continues – Important information

Nottingham Students Against Cuts and Fees are organising few big events that you should all come and get involved in.

  1. At 2:30pm on Monday 6th, there will be a rally outside the Great Hall in conjunction the Vice Chancellor meeting that the occupation successfully negotiated. Please come down and show your support and make some noise!
  2. At 3:30pm all students are invited to join an open forum discussion with the VC over the raise in tuition fees and cuts to the university, which is taking place in the Great Hall. All students are allowed to come, even if you weren’t in the occupation; even if you’re unsure about your position. Come down and hear the debate and get involved!
  3. On Thursday 9th, MP’s will vote in the commons to raise tuition fees. NSACF have organised coaches to take students, staff and supporters down to London for the National Day of Action. This is a big event, involving all occupations and the student movement as a whole!

The suggested donation for the coach is £5, but whatever you can afford. If you are interested, please email: nsafac@gmail.com with your name – Coach leaves 9am from Portland steps on Thursday 9th.

Also, join the Facebook event.

Love and solidarity

Photos from UK Uncut Protest in Nottingham