Liam Burns addressed delegates at Students’ Unions 2012 with a well-received speech on a radical new vision for the way we view education.
Liam explained that “in 2050, when the documentaries on this current decade are shown on TV, it’s a sure bet that that austerity will be the theme, and things like our demonstration eighteen months ago and the occupation of St Pauls will be the footage chosen to illustrate it.”
He warned however, that there is a danger of our tried and tested tactics becoming formulaic and un-inspiring. And so, in order to remain truly radical, we need a strong and positive vision for the future coupled with actions that resonate with the right people and achieve the right results.
Liam set out a new vision for tertiary education in order to “attack educational categories that we have become locked into”. He went on to argue that the idea of “tertiary [education] allows us to shatter…false oppositions and false boundaries [such as] liberal versus vocational, further education versus higher education, colleges versus universities, research versus teaching, traditional versus modern, formal versus informal”.
In setting out practical proposals to achieve this radical vision, Liam listed NUS’ recent work on student financial support, in the form of the Pound in your Pocket report to be published in October, as taking the first steps in dissolving false boundaries.
He also announced a new partnership between NUS and Which? to develop an online service providing independent and high-quality advice to students and learners when choosing courses. Click here for more information.
Liam concluded his speech by highlighting the importance of students’ localities in developing a new concept of tertiary education, and committed to not “rest until every MP that signed our pledge against fees and broke their promise will be unseated come 2015. That’s not out of spite, that’s because there is a moral hazard, not just to our members but democracy as a whole, if we do not.”
He finished by echoing the sentiments of many speakers over the event, by saying that this is an important moment for the student movement, and one we shouldn’t waste.
Watch the video of Liam Burns' keynote speech here.