POVERTY LOANS: THE FORGOTTEN FIGHT?

Male college student sitting cross-legged on the ground using a mortarboard graduation cap as a begging bowl.

by Alex Powell

Disclaimer: in what follows I am not suggesting that tuition fees are acceptable, nor that we should stop campaigning against further fee rises and for their complete abolition. But I think that we should put as much effort into campaigning on another, more pressing issue, which is often sidelined in the discourse around the marketisation of education. We need a maintenance loan settlement which works for all students and, crucially, higher postgraduate loans, to truly improve access to education.

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TREATED LIKE ROYALTY — WHY I TRULY APPRECIATE UEA

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by James Anthony 

In response to Lewis Martin’s article ‘Don’t Be Fooled by the Royal Illusion – The Failings of UEA.’

The Queen’s recent visit to the University of East Anglia was, in my opinion, rightly celebrated as a momentous occasion in the university’s history. I might not be hugely pro-monarchy, but I am definitely pro-UEA, and I could appreciate the enthusiasm and atmosphere on campus on the day of Her Majesty’s arrival. I followed the event closely on social media and thought it brought a sense of enjoyment and happiness to a cold January day, with large a crowd turning out to celebrate not only the Queen, but the university as an institution too, which was great to see. However, I found it interesting that not everyone saw it that way.Continue Reading

THE NSS: A MISSED OPPORTUNITY FOR SOLIDARITY

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By Alex Powell

So, it’s that time of year again. The time of year where university finalists are asked to submit to the NSS (National Student Survey) and evaluate their university experience.  This seems harmless enough. Indeed, the ability to criticise your institution in a way that might improve the experience of others can be portrayed as being positively progressive. However, this year, the data has a far more sinister usage. Because this year, NSS data is to be used in order to make decisions on whether or not to allow certain institutions to raise their fees. This change is coming about through the implementation of the TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework), and Tory reforms to higher education more generally.

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TRANSITION UNIVERSITIES – THE STUDENT RADICAL #8

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A decade and a half into the 21st century, many believe that the metamorphosis of student into consumer is complete. The student activist and the radical student movement are consigned to history. Despite the hiccup of the anti-fees protests in 2010, the modern student is more concerned with getting their money’s worth in education than they are about changing the world.

So some would have you think. Over the two years since the first run of this series, the student movement has grown further in depth, diversity and scope. This new set of articles seeks to explore the student campaigns that are redefining our time: what they have achieved, what they mean for the student movement, and their impact on the Higher Education sector as a whole.

By Maria Cooper

I went to university in St Andrews, Scotland. Well, in a sense I went to two – the old conventional institution you’ve heard of, and the far more inspiring Transition University of St Andrews. Transition started out for me as something I just did to survive – it was cheaper to grow food than buy it, cheaper to swap clothes and books than buy them, and being outside planting trees or mending bikes was a life-giving contrast to the stuffy library and theoretical learning that otherwise filled my days. Besides, many of my friends and I often felt that sort of depression so prevalent among students. What difference am I making in the world? Who cares about yet another essay, being read by one tutor and then put on the pile of student pride or shame never to be looked at again?

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OUR DEMOCRACY REQUIRES WE MAKE 2017 THE YEAR OF THE EXPERT

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by Olivia Hanks

All people are of equal value. The same is not true of opinions – and the conflation of the two is leading us down a dark path to ignorance and authoritarian rule.

2016 was not a good year for experts. Michael Gove (that straight-talking man of the people) declared that the British public had “had enough” of them. On the face of it, it seems he was right: in voting to leave the European Union, 17.4 million people defied the advice of specialists in every field from finance to ecology to social cohesion. A few months later, in the best Anglo-Saxon tradition of oneupmanship, the United States voted to be led by a man whose approach to policy is to say things at random and see which gets the biggest cheer.

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TRAILBLAZING – NUS IMPLEMENTS TRANS OFFICER POSITION

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By Noorulann Shahid, NUS LGBT+ Officer (Open Place)

The year is 2014. A group of trans activists are standing huddled around an iPad in a small room filled with baggage at the University of Nottingham. Glances and expressions of hope, determination and anxiety shoot around the room. I can see the focus in my peers’ eyes. I hastily jot down some notes, soon after which we scatter back onto the conference floor. There is a sense of tension and seriousness in the room as delegates wait to debate a highly-anticipated motion. When the motion is finally called out, the trans rep on NUS LGBT campaign committee delivers an impassioned speech for the creation of a full-time NUS Trans officer.

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‘UNREASONABLE AND ILLOGICAL’ – THE CONSEQUENCES OF CASUAL TEACHING CONTRACTS

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by Rowan Gavin

One of the biggest and most poorly kept secrets in higher education – that many teaching staff are employed under terms more often associated with a Sports Direct factory – has been breaking into mainstream media attention lately. To get an inside perspective on this casualisation of teaching work, and an idea of the scale and nature of the problem both locally and nationally, I spoke to three members of teaching staff who have worked on casual contracts in English universities in recent years. Two were employed at UEA, and one at Warwick University, where they are a part of the campaign group Warwick Anti-Casualisation (WAC).

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