Students declare: “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts!”


Students gathered outside the library on 30 November for a rally and general assembly to protest cuts to the education budget and possible tuition fee increases.

According to a press release a few days previously, the purpose of the rally was “to promote student and staff participation in any and all decisions to cut funding for teachers and other staff.”

One of the event organisers, 4th year student Patrick O’Hare, began by announcing that “students should say enough is enough” and that students “should be hopeful that the tide can be pushed back” against the decisions of the coalition government and the University.

He declared that “we want more accountability, we want more say and we say no to cuts.” Students in attendance then proceeded to volunteer to stand in front of the group to voice their opinions on the matter. A member of staff who was present also declared that the “UCU will be working hard to support student initiatives.”

One student in the crowd said of the proposed cuts, “it’s ridiculous, it’s targeting the wrong people.” Another emphasized the importance of students speaking up and taking action “because otherwise who will?”

Afterwards the group moved towards Lower College Hall in an attempt to speak to Dr. Louise Richardson, who was entertaining guests for the day’s graduation ceremonies. However, as their efforts were blocked by staff outside the building, they decided to march around the Quad chanting “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts!”

The final part of the protest occurred immediately after when the students took shelter from the cold in the Psychology Library in order to have an assembly. According to O’Hare, although the group was “adamant from the beginning that it wasn’t a long-term occupation of the building, Estates staff still had a hostile attitude, not allowing freedom of movement or allowing us to go to the toilet.”

Nonetheless, the assembly resulted in the creation of a statement of principles. O’Hare highlights that the group wants the University to commit to not cutting staff without staff and student consultation; to apply itself to achieving financial transparency; and to retract its statement that the Browne Report was “elegant and realistic.” He emphasised that “university places should be based on ‘ability’ and not ‘ability to pay’”.

O’Hare goes on to say that although rallies such as this one may not have achieved much yet, what is happening is a “radicalistaion of a generation of students” who up and down the country are “constructively debating on what kind of education system they would like to be a part of.”

He also argues that “occupations and demonstrations as well as  petitioning and lobbying LibDem MPs, are all valid forms of resistance to the changes. Students should continue agitating.”

Although protests such as these have been taking place at universities around the UK, not all students are in agreement. One 2nd year student stated “It’s a sad fact, but the UK is in enormous amount of debt and the budget has to be cut somehwere.”

It remains to be seen whether student action such as this has done enough to sway the opinions of MPs participating in the House of Commons vote on raising tuition fees that is taking place in Westminster today.

Andreea Nemes


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