“No if’s, no but’s, no education cuts!”

Was one of the more respectable quotes I heard yesterday at the National Union of Students’ and University College Union’s National Demonstration to protest about the cuts across the education sector targetting workers and students alike. Aaron Porter, NUS President, has already given an “enormous thank you to the hard work and dedication that made the biggest student demonstration in a generation- 50,000 students- possible”. IF your head has been in the sand and you don’t know what it’s about … NUS stands for saying:

  • NO to scrapping the EMA

  • NO to the privatisation of Arts, Humanities and Social Science teaching

  • NO to cutting ESOL provision

  • NO to higher fees

  • NO to fees in FE for ‘adult learning’

  • NO to soaring levels of debt

  • And YES to fairness, equity, and a properly funded state education system.

Staying awake until 5am to make sure that I could get the coach down to London with Staffordshire’s Students’ Union was really worth it and I’d like to say a great big thanks to Fee Wood, President of Staffs Union, who helped make it happen for me and at least 4 other coach loads of students from Stafford and Stoke campuses. The spirit of the demonstration was electric with drums and music making for great atmosphere along with some great signs and placards. The best that I saw were these:

As well as “Lidl won’t save us”, “I already can’t afford a proper sign” and “Condoms Protect students, ConDems Neglect students”.

Unfortunately there was some direct action that I, along with many others, didn’t know about until after. Yes, it was that noticable or talked about on the streets whilst we were there. In the week since the demonstration it has been reported somewhat more fervently because of the activity towards the Conservative Party Head Quarters. However the major point still remains: the coalition government are forcing students to become consumers rather than learners. The degrees themselves are not worth the paper they are printed on because if you don’t earn enough to pay your fees back then it’s worthless because you pay nothing for it, regardless of the debt you incur whilst a student attempting to cover each meal and each text book.

I worked hard at University and gained an Upper Second Class degree with honours whilst participating and leading in a Students’ Union that demanded much of my time as well as all the other activities I was involved with. My candidacy has lead me to around 3 graduate level interviews and no interviews for jobs I would have expected to gain before attending University.

If I am representative of the unemployed graduates across the country, and I do hope not, then graduates are turned away from jobs because they are overqualified. It boils my blood to hear the debates, such as Newsnight and Channel 4 news, on employment benefits where right-wingers suggest that if you want a job hard enough you’ll make it happen regardless of how qualified you are. Graduates are skilled workers and should be embraced into the working world. If only to support their sense of worth and responsibility by ensuring that their education is paid for and not fully subsidised by the state.


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