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Show and Tell: how Arts SU fixed the fees for their students

Monday 31-10-2016 - 16:30

The sabbatical team at Arts SU talk us through their #FixTheFees campaign, which resulted in their institution agreeing to axe plans to increase tuition fees for students continuing into the 2017-18 academic year.

This summer, it was announced that universities will be able to increase tuition fees to £9,250 a year from 2017-18 - a move which will also affect continuing home and EU students who started their courses expecting to pay £9,000.

We started receiving messages from UAL students worried that they might be charged more than they initially agreed to.

After asking the university for assurance that current students would not see their fees increased and not getting the response we wanted, we decided to take action.

That’s why we launched our #FixTheFees campaign, calling on UAL to freeze fees at the very least for returning students.

Thousands of students signed our petition at Freshers’ Fair, and almost 300 later added their names online. Dozens more left comments explaining why a fee increase would be unfair and damaging.

We also got our societies and sports clubs involved, encouraging them to take and post on social media photos with our #FixTheFees sign.

Then we went back to the negotiating table. We presented our case, explaining why it’s unjust for the university to just suddenly increase fees for students who were expecting to pay £9,000 for three years, how even a small increase would undermine students’ trust in the university and why fee rises were a matter of choice and priorities, not a financial necessity.

We made it clear that neither we nor students would give up easily. We had plans to escalate the campaign - however, much to our surprise, UAL soon agreed to keep fees at £9,000 for all current home and EU students for the duration of their degree!

This doesn’t mean the fight is over.

Fees are still scheduled to rise for new students, and the university’s participation in the Teaching Excellence Framework can mean further increases. However, this big victory at the very start of the academic year showed many students that they do have the power to create change.

Now, we are mobilising for the #Nov19 demo and the NSS boycott and we’re hoping we can have an impact on a national level as well!

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