Now is the time for a fresh wave of student action
Following the NUS/UCU National Demonstration on 10 November we have seen an unprecedented level of student activism. Action which highlights the devastating cuts to education, slashing of the EMA, the proposed trebling of tuition fees, and now the proposed abolition of AimHigher. I am proud of the peaceful actions of those students, lecturers, parents and supporters in condemnation of the coalition Government's proposals.
Since 10 November there has been a string of subsequent student actions; protests at MP surgeries, a wave of walk-outs, right to recall activity, occupations, lobbying of MPs through face to face meetings and letter writing, and a another day of action last Wednesday. In my speech at the demonstration rally on 10 November, I promised 'this was only the beginning' and together we now need to see this promise become a reality.
The scale of the challenge before us, now calls for an unparalleled response.
This is why I want to announce my support for a new wave of action, spurred on and supported by NUS and Students' Unions, mobilising our students in colleges and Universities and working with other activists and supporters from across the education sector, the trade union movement, parents, families and beyond. There has never been a more important time for a united student movement, and this is what I will lead.
I have seen so much action from SUs and students across the UK. Fantastic work from the Unions highlighting the Lib Dems u-turn on tuition fees. Amazing work from colleges where record numbers of students have protested against the slashing to the EMA.
On Tuesday, there is another day of action, and I would encourage every SU to find a way of contributing and ensuring we are maximising the pressure on politicians from all parties. I will be mobilising NEC members to support your activities. On the same day, the Labour Party have also secured an opposition day debate on the issue of higher education funding, which should help us amplify the issue to a national level once more.
In the run up to the vote in Parliament, I can also announce that NUS will be organising a national day of action and a lobby of Parliament - and this will be vital to maintaining the momentum we have built up in just a few short weeks.
I want to be clear and unequivocal in my support of student led, non-violent protest. I would also urge those in occupation, or student groups planning protests, to secure the support of and work through their students’ union; to ensure that their actions are aimed firmly and squarely at MPs; and to carry out their activity without violence or damage to property.
In the coming weeks we will be running training for student activists around the UK and making materials available to students’ unions to inspire new activists, helping to unleash this fresh wave of student action. Our actions over the coming weeks will define a generation.
Every action, no matter how small, can make a huge difference. There are a range of ways we can make our voices heard from protest to lobbying, from letter writing to demonstrations. All matter, the most important thing is that it happens. MPs of all parties need to feel the heat. And your role in that is vital.
NUS is here to support you, please feel free to use us, and most importantly ensure that we using every tactic we can muster to pile on the pressure and fight the unprecedented attacks on our education system.