By Lotty Clare
It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.
We face many challenges as students in 2018. Painfully high tuition fees along with eye-watering maintenance loans means that lower income students will leave university with over £50,000 of debt. Bafflingly, Prime Minister Theresa May only recently came to the realisation that poorer students are getting deterred from going into higher education. By contrast, the Labour Party’s promises to scrap tuition fees and bring back maintenance grants are of course a welcome relief for many prospective students – UK national students that is. Labour have seemingly barely considered the possibility of doing the same for international students. At the University of East Anglia, non-EU international students pay about £14,800 annually, on top of having to prove that they have access to thousands of pounds for living costs. If education is a right, why are we privileging wealthier international students in this way? What would Britain look like if we abolished or at least dramatically reduced fees for international students?
by Thai Braddick
I was elected as a delegate to NUS National Conference last year in October by students in UEA SU. I received the highest number of votes, and am proud to say that it was because I am a socialist who values and appreciates all intersections of my electorate. Today at the NUS National Conference, delegates were meant to be debating motions in the Welfare Zone, but the debate on motions W106 ‘Decriminalisation of Abortion in Northern Ireland’ and W107 ‘Students and Sex Work’ were both filibustered aggressively, with continued procedural motions and DPC and chair misconduct. These actions were taken to intentionally prevent conference being given the chance to support people in Northern Ireland’s right to choose to have an abortion and to support student sex workers through campaigning to decriminalise sex work.
by Eli Lambe
On Monday, Jon McGregor, author of Costa Book Award winning Reservoir 13, announced that he would not be taking part in this week’s event for the UEA Spring Literary Festival. His reason was that doing so would involve crossing the picket line of the ongoing UCU Strike against changes to pensions, which would leave lecturers and teaching staff at universities across the UK around £10,000 a year worse off (than in the previous arrangement). He stated “I have never crossed a picket line in my life, and am not about to start now. Instead, I will be joining staff, students, and writers for an evening of readings and discussion as part of the Alternative University being organised by striking staff and hosted by the Students’ Union.”
By Ana Oppenheim, NUS International Students’ Campaign
What is happening?
Academic staff at over 60 universities will be going on strike for 14 working days, starting from Thursday February 22. This means many lectures will be cancelled – but even when they are not, we are encouraging students in universities that are on strike to not go to class and, if possible, not enter university buildings at all during strike days.
by Alex Powell
As a Graduate Teaching Fellow, I hold a position that straddles the roles of student and staff, giving me a slightly unusual perspective on the UCU strike action that begins today. It is from this conflicted, complex and, at times like these, compromised position that I wish to lay out why I will be standing with colleagues from 61 other institutions around the country in joining the strike action.
The much-reported Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) strike in protest of cynical changes to university staff pension arrangements begins next week. The UEA branch of UCU and UEA Students’ Union have produced this statement for The Norwich Radical, to offer an introduction to the issues surrounding the strike. The Radical encourages all students, in Norwich and elsewhere, to stand in solidarity with the strikers by not attending classes on the dates of the strikes, and by sharing their message with your peers.
by Lewis Jarrad
On the 9th-10th December, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) put on its 2017 Winter Conference in Liverpool. Taking place less than a month after their national demonstration, which advocated for free education and universal living grants funded by taxing the rich, the conference was a chance for student activists across the UK to strategise and discuss where we can go next in the fight for a free and democratic education system. Campuses represented included Liverpool, Manchester, UCL, UAL, KCL, Warwick, Sheffield, Abertay, Oxford and Cambridge. As a first year UCL student who was involved in the national demo, I went along to learn more about NCAFC and how I could get more involved in the campaign.