STUDENTS’ UNIONS WILL ALWAYS BE POLITICAL

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By Lewis Martin

Over the last few weeks, UEA Students’ Union has received a number of comments from certain students on social media, complaining about it being ‘political’ and choosing to take political actions such as organising boycotts and funding students to travel to rallies. The SU is also being accused of acting undemocratically for taking these actions. Whilst these accusations are nothing new, in these recent cases the accusers are creating an obscure binary on what the SU can and can’t be seen doing, with a particular focus on only serving certain students’ needs.

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THERE’S MORE TO STUDENT ACTIVISM THAN #PEOPLESVOTE

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By Lewis Martin

Amatey Doku is right: student activism isn’t dead. In a recently published interview with the Guardian, the NUS Vice President of Higher Education proclaimed that students’ response to Brexit and their engagement with the People’s Vote campaign has shown that student activism is thriving anew, after years without a “unifying cause”. But what about the fight for free education that has been active on our campuses since 2012? For many activists in the last few generations of students, it was the issue that brought us together and gave us the skills to take the fight to the powerful. But for Doku, it was too “inward looking” to inspire a “genuine” movement.

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THE DOUBLE DECEPTION OF THE UEA EXPENSES SCANDAL

By Lewis Martin

This week it was revealed that the senior management team at UEA has been claiming ludicrous expenses whilst on business trips across the world. Some of these claims have included limousine rides through Hong Kong, first class train and plane tickets, five star hotels and meals costing as much as £640. This attitude to spending university money is absurd and distasteful, but it is not surprising. It is a predictable result of the changes that UK higher education has undergone over the past eight years.

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FFS, OFS – BANKRUPT UNIS AND A MORALLY BANKRUPT REGULATOR

By Lewis Martin

Last week, the news broke that three universities in the UK are facing bankruptcy if they don’t receive financial help from the government. One institution in the North West and two in the South of England, all unnamed, are having to survive on short term loans in order to function on a basic level. Most concerningly, one of them is already in talks with insolvency lawyers, suggesting that it could be filing for bankruptcy before the academic year is out.

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GRADE INFLATION, VESTED INTERESTS AND THE FAILURE OF MARKETISATION

By Lewis Martin

Grade inflation is back in the headlines this week, with universities minister Sam Gyimah announcing that it will be incorporated into how universities are ranked under the Teaching Excellence Framework. There is statistical evidence to back up this policy change – according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the number of first class degrees being awarded has grown by 18% between 2012/13 and 2016/17. Whilst it is statistically true that grades are inflating at the university level, there are a number of issues with the current discourse around grade inflation that are not being properly addressed by HE decision makers.

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FUCK FUTURE FINANCE – THE FRIGHTENING REALITY OF PRIVATE STUDENT LOANS

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By Lewis Martin

CW: mentions suicide.

Sometimes targeted adverts reveal to you more than you wanted to know. I’ve recently been experiencing facebook ads for Future Finance, a company that offers loans of up to £40,000 to students, with an interest rate of 17.45% APR for all the time that you’re studying. To put that in perspective, if you borrowed £7000 over 5 years, you’d have repaid a stonking £11,223 by the time you’ve paid it off. This eye watering example reveals both the current state of Higher Education financing and a frightening future that is increasingly intruding on the present.

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BEYOND TUITION FEES #11 – MUCH TO LEARN, MORE TO DO

By Bradley Allsop and Rowan Gavin

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. In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green have brought together perspectives from across the sector to explore the possibilities of post-fees HE. In the final instalment, the series editors summarise the visions for the next chapter of UK HE that the series has laid out.

There is more energy, debate and innovation on the left now than there has been for decades. Capitalism’s multiple crises, and the inability of its defenders to respond to them, are beginning to translate into tangible political opportunity. This series sought to capture the essence of some of this historical moment and direct it towards thinking about what we want our university campuses to look like, beyond the staple progressive policy of scrapping tuition fees. A project in unashamedly utopian thinking, it recognised the very real possibility that free tuition might be a reality in the near future, and sought to explore how this requires the left to think practically about what comes after and where our energy should be focused next.

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EDUCATION IN ADULTHOOD – BEYOND TUITION FEES #10

By Dan Davison

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.

Being a PhD student is an oft-frustrating experience. As well as bearing the brunt of rife casualisation in the education sector, at times I find myself longing for release into the ‘real world’, having been a student for so long. Despite these frustrations, I have recently come to appreciate how much I have learned in my years as a postgraduate. Not just what I was taught on my Master’s and PhD courses, but also what I’ve gained from my access to university resources, including library collections and online databases, and the opportunity associate with other educated people from different walks of life. In terms of both scholarship and life experience, I have learned far more in my postgraduate mid-twenties than I ever did from my undergraduate years.Continue Reading

NO PRAISE FOR ‘HYMN’

By Laura Potts

In recent weeks, Damien Hirst’s anatomical sculpture Hymn (1999–2005) has been installed outside of my university, Norwich University of the Arts (NUA), where it will be on show until July 29th as part of his exhibition at Houghton Hall. Although the term ‘hymn’ refers to a form of praise, there are a number of reasons why neither Damien Hirst nor the institutions choosing to associate with his work should be praised.

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A CO-OPERATIVE FUTURE FOR STUDENTS – BEYOND TUITION FEES #9

By Lewis Martin

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.

Up and down the UK, from Edinburgh to Brighton, students are building alternatives to existing, exploitative housing and food practices. How? By creating co-operatives! These alternative ways of organising are expanding and flourishing at a rate never seen before, as students look to take their lives into their own hands, in defiance of the rising cost of living and exploitative landlords and businesses. The founding of Student Co-operative Homes, a launch pad organisation for potential student housing co-ops across the UK founded by the grassroots network Students for Co-operation and supported by national co-op federation Co-Ops UK, demonstrates the growing support for these independent, democratic projects.

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ANOTHER HIGHER EDUCATION IS ALREADY HERE – BEYOND TUITION FEES #8

By Sarah Amsler

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.

‘The university’ is a fertile space within which to practice radical imagining and world-making today. I do not mean that actually-existing universities, in the UK or elsewhere, necessarily provide space for such work. On the contrary, there is ample evidence that the spaces for critique and creative thinking in higher education have shrunk as forces of commodity fetishism, privatisation, competition and authoritarian modes of control have permeated university governance. Continue Reading

EDUCATION AS EMANCIPATION – BEYOND TUITION FEES #7

By Michael Kyriacou

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.

The traditional arguments for ‘free education’ focus on reducing the upfront price of university courses to zero. Rather than HE being a commodity to be traded on the open market, it becomes a good paid for by the government. This kind of argument rests on a contradiction: we cannot solve the commodification of HE by continuing to assert the existence of HE as commodity, even a nationalised one. Abolishing tuition fees is undoubtedly a good thing, but to move beyond their legacy we must understand HE as devoid not only of its price but also its status as a commodity. We need to explore the potential for HE grounded not in classification or institution but in the fundamental equality of intelligences – HE without the degree.

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FREEING EDUCATION FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS – BEYOND TUITION FEES #5

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?

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THE FUTURE OF STUDENTS’ UNIONS – BEYOND TUITION FEES #4

By Bradley Allsop and Calum Watt

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.

Students’ Unions are meant to defend students’ rights, fighting with and for them during their time at university and beyond. However, modern SUs are often dominated by corporate thinking, consumer culture and cosy collusion with university management. Radical, grassroots democracy is often muted or discouraged, channelled instead into more temperate, gradual and piecemeal avenues by Unions centralised in their functioning and timid in their approach.

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THOUGHTS FROM THE FRONTLINE OF MARKETISATION – BEYOND TUITION FEES #3

By Maddie Colledge, UEA SU Postgraduate Education Officer

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.

CW: Mentions suicide

It’s common for arguments in favour of free education to be dismissed as abstract or utopian, and for students who promote it to be belittled as naïve. I fear that in our attempts to try to portray the significance of free education, we have fallen into a trap where the concept has become so expansive and broad, and the term so overused, that it has lost all meaning. We need to move away from talking about ‘free’ education, and towards articulating a vision more explicitly centred on ‘state-funded’ education or ‘public’ education. For me, the description ‘free’ makes the concept feel distanced from the viable possibility of education funded through public taxation, and does us no favours in making it reality.

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A TRULY RADICAL NUS – BEYOND TUITION FEES #2

By Lewis Martin

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.

Over the last year the NUS has been a shadow of its former self, riddled with accusations of bullying from its President and marked by its failure to engage with the largest upswelling of campus activism this country has seen in years. It was bizarre enough that it refused to back demonstrations for Free Education last year, implying a denial that the end of tuition fees would be a benefit for students. But that pales in comparison to the extraordinary lack of NUS involvement in the recent UCU strikes. While its members joined the picket lines and entered occupation up and down the country, NUS chose to stay silent when our academic staff most needed their support. Continue Reading

REFLECTIONS FROM THE PICKET LINE

By Alex Powell

During the UCU strike over the proposed cuts to the USS pension scheme, I was on the picket line almost every day, rising early to join colleagues all over the country in standing outside university buildings and telling those who tried to enter what we were fighting for. Often, the media attempts to portray strikers as lazy, suggesting that they simply cannot be bothered to do their jobs. Other times strikers are represented as greedy, suggesting that they are already doing far better than the rest of the country and now they want more. I want to offer another perspective – direct from the picket line – charting how being on strike has strengthened my relationships with colleagues, raised morale among staff and made me a better teacher.

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HIGHER EDUCATION IN A POST-FEES WORLD – BEYOND TUITION FEES #1

By Bradley Allsop and Calum Watt

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 new series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.

Politics is in a very different place than a few years ago. Radical change feels possible, tangible, close. The Labour Party’s pledge to scrap tuition fees is one of many signs of this – welcome, and necessary to salvage higher education from the marketised juggernaut it has become. But just abolishing fees is not enough to fix all of higher education’s problems.

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THE UCU STRIKE – A GUIDE FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

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.
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WHY I AM STRIKING

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.

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UCU STRIKE TO PROTECT PENSIONS

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.

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FEES, FREE SPEECH AND FILIBUSTERING – A BRIEF HISTORY OF SAM GYIMAH MP

by Lewis Martin

Here’s a sentence I’ve wanted to write for some time: Jo Johnson is no longer the Universities minister. Last week Theresa May ‘promoted’ him to the transport office and made him the new minister for London. His removal came just days after Toby Young was forced to resign from the Office for Students (OfS) board, in part due to his link to a eugenics conference held at UCL.

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IT’S OUR ‘YOUTHQUAKE’ – WHAT WILL WE MAKE OF IT?

by Bradley Allsop

Young people can’t catch a break. On the one hand, we’re scolded and ridiculed for our apparent lack of engagement with traditional political institutions, which is generally assumed to be a result of our ‘laziness’ or ‘apathy’, with our disillusionment and distrust with politicians that have continually failed us apparently precluding our ‘right to complain’. On the other hand, when we do engage politically, in those rare moments when we do seek to take an active role in our futures, we’re painted as thuggish, fragile or naïve. In short, the message we continually get is: “engage – but not like that!”

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WE CAN’T JUST WAIT FOR FREE EDUCATION – NCAFC WINTER CONFERENCE

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.

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UEA: BANKING ON IMMORALITY

by Lewis Martin

If it’s not one thing it’s another with UEA. Weeks after their announcement that they’ve finally divested from fossil fuel companies, People and Planet UEA have discovered that the university has nearly £23 million invested with Barclays Bank. This won’t be particularly surprising to most – there is a branch on campus after all – but it shows the university’s ongoing decision to disregard the unfolding environmental and ethical situation of the world it operates in.

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HIGHER EDUCATION’S EXPANSION PROBLEM

by Alex Powell

The number of students starting at UK universities has increased dramatically in recent years, despite a slight fall recorded this year, and is set to go on increasing as universities increase their intake. The government has heralded this as an example of the increasing availability of higher education to students coming from working class communities. However, we have to ask what impact the increase in student numbers is having on the quality of education provided by universities.

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EDUCATION’S SUCH A MESS, BUT WHERE THE FUCK IS NUS?

by Lewis Martin

Last week students from around the UK marched through London to pressure the government into finally delivering free education. The march has become a yearly spectacle and a symbol of the importance of direct action to the student movement. This year however, the National Union of Students decided not to back the demo, claiming that putting more energy into lobbying will have a greater impact than this direct action could. This shift of attitude isn’t just found in the higher ranks of NUS; it is also becoming commonplace in more and more student unions across the country.

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ALTERNATIVE ARTS EDUCATION – A BRIEF HISTORY

by Laura Potts

Education is amazing. It encourages the growth of passion for any number of subjects, and opens doors for many to enter into the field that that passion leads them towards, where their research work is often vital to the discovery of all sorts of new and exciting things.

However, the modern system that has emerged as society has ‘advanced’ does not always prioritise the curiosity and growth that education cultivates over more material concerns such as financial gain. The increases in the various fees and costs associated with higher educational institutions and the shrinking of the creative curriculum at earlier levels often means that a passion for a subject is no longer enough. But as with any monolithic trend, alternatives have sprung up down the years.

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THERESA MAY HAS LOST CONTROL OF THE NARRATIVE. HER PREMIERSHIP IS DOOMED.

by Toby Gill

‘The most dangerous time for a bad government is when it begins to reform itself.’ Alexis de Toqueville.

Give people an inch, and they will take a mile. This is what de Toqueville hinted at in his Ancien Regime et la Revolution, his celebrated account of the French Revolution. It was just as Louis XVI’s regime began to reform that the masses could take no more. Just as the promise of real change was made, the guillotine fell.Continue Reading

WHY LORD ADONIS IS WRONG ABOUT POLYTECHNICS

by Lewis Martin

This week, former education minister Lord Adonis decided to reopen a debate that was seemingly long-dead. During a report to a House of Lords Committee, he stated that the decision to allow polytechnics to become universities 25 years ago was “a very serious mistake”. This problematic claim reveals the real views of someone who has lately been seen as posing significant challenges of the higher education sector’s issues.

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THE TUITION FEE FREEZE – TOO LITTLE TOO LATE

by Laura Potts

As the country continues to languish in the grasp of a Conservative government, and the shadows of brexit and the snap election continue to lengthen, many are left questioning the political standing of this country’s future. This year’s extraordinary general election has made many people feel alienated from their government, especially among the younger generation. Hardly surprising, as the ultimate outcome reflected the voting preferences of their elders, with 58% of 60-69 yr old’s voting conservative while 62% of 20-24 year olds voted labour.

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BLINDED BY IDEOLOGY – TWO YEAR DEGREES REVISITED

by Lewis Martin

Back in March, the MinoriTory government announced the idea of running fast track two year degree courses in the hope of saving students money. Last week the Times Higher Education supplement revealed that surveyed students from lower socio-economic backgrounds would be more likely to take this option up if it existed. Could the Tories’ apparently hare-brained scheme in fact be justified?

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THE RIGHT ARE RUNNING SCARED – A RESPONSE TO TOM WELSH

by Lewis Martin

In the midst of right-wing confusion about Jeremy Corbyn’s continuing support amongst the young, following a supposed u-turn on his flagship policy to scrap student debt, Tom Welsh of the Telegraph has unveiled a new thesis: the left will continue its resurgence so long as too many go to university*. His argument is as ridiculous as the title makes it sound, and his article is full of claims that are absurd, patronising and completely unsupported.

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WHY THE TORIES DON’T CARE ABOUT NURSES

by Lewis Martin

CW: death, disease, corpses.

Last week we heard that the number of people applying to become nursing students has fallen by 19% in the past year. As this is the first application cycle since government cuts to NHS bursaries, for many this will not be much of a shock. It’s clear that the government’s decision to take away this provision that allowed many students to attend their courses will have serious detrimental effects, not only for the institutions that train nurses but for the NHS as a whole.

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SHAKING UP HIGHER ED – TEF’S SILVER LINING

By Alex Powell

Late last month, we saw the release of the first batch of Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) results. The TEF has been the subject of significant student opposition, with a Save the Student survey suggesting that as many as 76% of students oppose the implementation of the TEF. I was an opponent of it myself, particularly of links made between TEF scores and the ability of institutions to raise their tuition fees, though this plan has been postponed until 2020.

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DIRTY MONEY – HOW ETHICAL ARE OUR UNIVERSITIES’ INVESTMENTS?

by Laura Potts

Each university is different from one another. Moreover, they are very different from most other institutions of all types. On one hand they are educational institutions; on the other they are businesses. As businesses they make investments, though this is not something we would usually think of as a priority of educators. It is worth taking the time to investigate what your university is truly involved with and if their investments are ethical, not only for moral peace of mind but also to have a clearer idea of what your tuition fees are being put toward.

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WHO DESERVES TEF GOLD? AND DOES IT MATTER?

by Laura Potts

Last week, the first set of Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) rankings were released for 2017. The TEF is fairly complicated and students are rarely informed of how it works, or the possible implications it holds for the future of education. In short, it is a framework of metrics or measures introduced by the Tory government, ostensibly to assess teaching in higher education institutions in England. These metrics categorise two areas: student satisfaction and graduate earnings / employability. A lot of the data comes from the National Student Survey that final year students are often pressured to take part in. This years’ rankings gave some unexpected results for some of the UK’s most prestigious institutes, with many not doing as well as expected – only 8 of the 21 elite Russell Group universities were awarded ‘Gold’. This suggests that we should be cautious about taking the TEF results as accurate representations of institutions.

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DEBT RISING – HOW TUITION FEES ARE KILLING UNIVERSITIES

by Lewis Martin

Last week it was announced that the total student debt in the UK has reached over £100 billion for the first time. Whilst this milestone was inevitable, it is nonetheless an indictment of the current government’s claim that it is easy and convenient for students to pay off their debt under the post-2010 system.

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ELITISM REFUSES TO DIE – THE UNIVERSITY FUNDING PROBLEM

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by Lewis Martin

Last month, Freddie DeBoer wrote about the failure of the university system in the United States to equally fund different institutions across the country. Looking specifically at Connecticut, DeBoer shows how Yale, one of the prestigious Ivy League universities, fuels social inequality by receiving public funds as well as other sources for revenue whilst other, more accessible community colleges are “cut to the bone”.

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THE PARADOX OF TORY EDUCATION POLICY – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #7

by Alex Powell

In the midst of multiple crises faced by students, universities and schools, the outcome of the snap general election will be a major indicator of the future of the UK education sector. Each week until the vote we are featuring perspectives from our regular contributors and guests on what the election could mean for students.

There is a severe dissonance between the conception of higher education that the Conservatives purport to support and the policies presented in their 2017 manifesto. In order to show this I have to work from within the Tory understanding of the purpose of higher education, and the role international students play within achieving that. Despite my adoption of this form of argumentation, I wish to make it clear that I do not subscribe to the idea that higher education is purely about reputation, financial stability, or the production of an effective workforce. Further, I do not accept the idea that international students are valuable only in terms of what they can offer to either educational institutions or the UK more generally. The current treatment of international students, and the blatant disregard shown for their welfare, is one of the most indefensible aspects of modern higher education policy.

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THE DECISION FOR PROGRESSIVES IN NORWICH SOUTH

world votes radical

by Joe Burns

Progressives in the constituency of Norwich South have a difficult decision to make tomorrow. It is a decision that has come up many times before. Do you vote for the party that you most strongly align with or do you tactically vote to keep Conservatives out? It might be that few in Norwich want a Conservative government in power, but is voting for a weak opponent to the Tories a risk worth taking? Aren’t Labour popular enough in the city to win without the support of Green Party or Liberal Democrat voters? Weighing those odds is tricky.

In many constituencies around the country the decision is relatively easy. There are dozens of websites that can quickly and straightforwardly tell you which party to vote for in your area if you want to vote for the party with the greatest chance of keeping the Tories out. This is the case in zones where Tory and Labour candidates score closely and no other party comes close to matching them. If you’re a small party voter then your vote makes little difference to the outcome anyway.Continue Reading

A RAY OF HOPE – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #5

by the UEA Young Greens

In the midst of multiple crises faced by students, universities and schools, the outcome of the snap general election will be a major indicator of the future of the UK education sector. Each week until the vote we are featuring perspectives from our regular contributors and guests on what the election could mean for students.

On June the 8th the country will head to the polls for Mrs May’s snap election. This election has been called because, in a remarkable display of hubris, May and her Tory cohort expect to win a huge majority so she can continue to pursue her campaign of cuts whilst also pushing for a Hard Brexit. If they’re right, the future looks rather grim.

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VOTE PROGRESSIVE, VOTE FOR OUR FUTURE – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #4

by Lewis Martin

In the midst of multiple crises faced by students, universities and schools, the outcome of the snap general election will be a major indicator of the future of the UK education sector. Each week until the vote we are featuring perspectives from our regular contributors and guests on what the election could mean for students.

There is a lot of fear about the morning of June 9th. Will we wake up to a Tory super-majority that will see them stay in charge for the next 15 years? To a renewed age of cuts that hurt the poorest and most vulnerable in society, that disembowel the education system from primary to higher, and that destroy the environmental protections (or ‘Green Crap’) that will ensure that we have a safer and more secure future for our world? Or will the sun rise on something else? With the polls getting closer and closer, a miraculous Labour Party win isn’t off the table just yet.

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THOUGHTS FROM THE FENCES – YARL’S WOOD & THE IMPORTANCE OF IMMIGRANT RIGHTS

by Lotty Clare

Content warning: mentions violence against women, abuse, rape, self-harm, suicide, racism, harassment, homophobia.

Last Saturday, a group of UEA students and Norwich residents travelled to a protest at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire. This protest was the fifth Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary (MFJ) has organised to shut down detention centres. As I approached the building, hidden inside an industrial estate, surrounded by fields, in the middle of nowhere, it was just as intimidating and depressing as 6 months ago when I went to Yarl’s Wood for the first time. It looks like a prison, except that it is ‘worse than prison, because you have no rights’, as former detainee Aisha Shua put it. Some women are in Yarl’s Wood because their visa expired, others because their asylum claim was unsuccessful. They have committed no crime. And yet they can be detained there indefinitely.

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STUDENTS NEED A REVOLUTION – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #1

by Bradley Allsop

In the midst of multiple crises faced by students, universities and schools, the outcome of the snap general election will be a major indicator of the future of the UK education sector. Each week until the vote we are featuring perspectives from our regular contributors and guests on what the election could mean for students.

Students have been at the forefront of progressive politics and change throughout the centuries. We were engaged in the 1848 revolutions that shook Europe, and front and centre of a wave of radical protest that shook the world in 1968. We played a part in challenging apartheid in South Africa and the continued Israeli abuse of the Palestinian people. Most recently we are leading the way on fossil fuel divestment.

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IS CREATIVITY DYING?

by Laura Potts

As a fine art student, I spend my time surrounded by others engaged in creative practices or on creative career paths. However, as I’ve progressed through the first year of my degree I’ve noticed a major stigma attached to these paths. Even within my own arts university there is a perception that fine art students are less ‘realistic’ than those on other creative courses in the university, like graphic design or fashion. This perception, usually held by people who haven’t taken the time to ask fine art students and other creatives about our work, has spread widely through society. Modern artists do not warrant the same level of interest and respect as the great painter-philosophers of previous centuries.

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ENOUGH PESSIMISM ABOUT HE – A RESPONSE TO JIM DICKINSON

by Lewis Martin

In a recent article for the Guardian, UEA SU CEO Jim Dickinson wrote about universities’ failure to produce anything satisfactory for its students, as well as the lack of transparency around how tuition fees are spent. Helpful though it is to point out the issues faced by the student movement, Dickinson fails to offer any type of remedy for them at any point, suggesting that cynical resignation is the only possible response.

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“A VERY DIFFERENT TYPE OF POLITICS” – RESPONSE TO NUS CONFERENCE DAY 1

by Cherry Somersby

Content warning: Article mentions suicide.

The political transition we have seen in NUS over the last 12 months would have been unthinkable this time last year. The student movement has risen to the growing need for radical action this year, building groundbreaking, vital campaigns, presenting a powerful response to the many crises modern students face.

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TAKING ON THE SPECTRE THAT HAUNTS HIGHER EDUCATION

By Bradley Allsop

We’ve all seen the headlines – tripled tuition fees, retroactive changes to the student loan book, the nefarious uses of the National Student Survey. Often treated as isolated issues, these policies are in reality the foot soldiers in a war being waged to undermine the very foundations of our universities, twisting them from hallowed halls of challenge and transformation into bland centres for corporate training and indoctrination. This spectre haunts academics, senior managers and even Students’ Unions alike, forcing them all to dance to the mantra of the market, to the profit agenda. This spectre’s name is capitalism.

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SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING – WHY THE NUS DISAFFILIATION ARGUMENT FAILS TO CONVINCE

by Alex Powell

Recent years, have seen a spate of referenda within students’ unions on whether they should continue their affiliation to NUS. One of the union’s most prominent critics, Tom Harwood, is running for NUS president this year. With all this going on, I feel like it’s a good time to throw my hat into the ring.

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OXFORD’S PUBLICITY STUNT WON’T CLOSE THE UNIVERSITY CLASS GAP

By Lewis Martin

This month Oxford University, in conjunction with the Sutton Trust, launched a summer school aimed at attracting more “white, working class boys” to the university. While this has received praise from some sectors of society, it does not address the real reasons why working class people (not just boys or men) are not attending universities like Oxford.

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‘I FEEL LIKE I’M NON-EXISTENT’ – THE LIFE OF MATURE STUDENTS

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By Lewis Martin

Imagine a mature student.

I’m guessing many of you are picturing someone middle aged, married with two to three grown up children, who can now afford to go back to university to get the career change they’ve always wanted but couldn’t get when they were growing up. This stereotypical view of mature students has a detrimental effect on the Mature Student community.

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QUICKER ISN’T BETTER – PROFIT BEFORE HEALTH IN TWO YEAR DEGREES

By Lewis Martin

Last week the government announced plans to allow students to complete an undergraduate degree within two years instead of the usual three. To facilitate this fast-track system, universities will be permitted to charge £13,000 a year in tuition fees for these courses. As many have already noted, it’s easy to see what this announcement really is: another step in the marketisation of higher education. UCU general secretary Sally Hunt described it as ‘another misguided attempt to allow for-profit colleges access to UK higher education.’ The government have become less and less tactless when it comes to putting profit before the education of students.

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WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT PERFECTIONISM

By Alex Powell

Perfectionism may seem like a fringe issue – a few of us are self-proclaimed perfectionists, but that’s just a personality trait, right? Maybe not. Issues of perfectionism have had a dramatic impact on my studies, and I have seen it increasingly manifested amongst the students around me. It is a key indicator of many other issues which students face in the modern university environment.

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THE MANY COSTS OF STUDENT POVERTY

By Laura Potts

Maintenance grants are a thing of the past and student accommodation costs are rising by the year. Is it any wonder that 80% of students worry about having enough money to get by? As a student myself I am surrounded by people whose rent is higher than their student loan, leading them to make sacrifices on important aspects of their lives, such as their diet. In many cases, students must choose to let their own health suffer as a result of lack of funds.

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POVERTY LOANS: THE FORGOTTEN FIGHT?

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

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

DON’T BE FOOLED BY THE ROYAL ILLUSION – THE FAILINGS OF UEA

by Lewis Martin

As you’ve probably heard, the Queen visited the UEA last week. The visit quickly became the biggest marketing opportunity that UEA has seen in many years. Tourists, students and local residents turned up to feel the buzz of the monarch’s presence on campus, and UEA jumped at the chance to publicise all the ‘amazing’ work it’s doing.

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THE NSS: A MISSED OPPORTUNITY FOR SOLIDARITY

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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#LOVESUs DAY – 3 REASONS TO LOVE UEA SU

by Sam Naylor

Today, Friday 2nd December 2016, is this year’s #LoveSUs Day. It’s a time to encourage positivity and togetherness with our Students’ Unions, highlighting the impact they have on our student experiences. It comes at a time when student maintenance grants have been scrapped by the government, English university tuition fees are set to rise even further based on performance in the new ‘Teaching Excellence Framework’, and student accommodation prices are rising more rapidly than any other rates in the private rental sector. All students need an organisation that will speak for us when the government of the day is constantly ignoring our needs and actively promoting policies that are having negative impacts on our lives.

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GAME OF LOANS

by Sam Naylor

I’m sure there were resounding cheers from students and would be university slackers when universities across England began detailing their 2017 tuition fee rates. Some places, like the University of Manchester, have already stated that 2017 students can enjoy a mild increase to £9,250 per year of undergraduate study, whilst institutions like our local favourite UEA have been more cautious on their website assuming a 3% inflationary increase year-on-year (which is pretty much the same thing but it’s like Manchester has included a picture of the middle finger whereas UEA has written hahaha in small letters.)

Some might think that the universities of Manchester, Kent, and Durham are jumping the gun a bit as MPs are yet to vote on the increase in parliament but I’d rather see it as an eager sign of increasing students’ experiences rather than a money grabbing exercise. We will all remember being constantly instructed by our most benevolent regime to ‘live within our means’ and that acquiring debt is terrible for a country but a must for university students.Continue Reading

GRADUATING WHILST BLACK

by Candice Nembhard

I graduated! I actually graduated. Mortarboard thrown, picture taken, congratulatory conversations with parents and friends and then you hear the dreaded, “What are you doing next?”

It’s not that I have never given much thought to what would come post-university — quite the opposite. The last few months prior to dressing in my cap and gown have been filled with endless job applications, copious redrafts of my CV and looking into Masters programmes both in the UK and elsewhere – I cannot be the only one. I am certain the same can be said of other BAME students whose road to graduate employment is a lot more uncertain and suspiciously taxing.Continue Reading

WHAT IS DONE CANNOT BE UNDONE. WE ARE THE ARCHITECTS OF OUR FUTURE.

by Natasha Senior

I keep replaying the same slide show, projecting it on the back of my mind. I see the temperature rising, 9/11, the Iraq war, financial collapse. I enter the ballot box for the first time, eager for change. The coalition forms. Mass extinctions. The SNP wins a majority. Tuition fees triple. The Arab Spring. House prices rise. Riots. The Olympics. Food banks. Austerity. Austerity. Austerity. Benefits slashed. The NHS in turmoil. The Eurozone crisis. Scotland votes for unity. Greece votes for change. They are hung, drawn, quartered. We reach the 1°C threshold. The ballot box takes away a piece of me every single time. The far left brings hope but the far right brings hate. They spread their infectious disease. Storms, droughts, forest fires. Everything I fear begins to materialise in front of my eyes. Refugees fleeing the wars we started but we just condemn them to their fates. Floods everywhere. Terrorism. Xenophobia. Half-truths and outright lies. A vote for fear, a vote for suspicion, a vote for fascism.

The weather joins us in this violence as we drive another dagger into the heart of the world. I tell myself lies to ease the pain, looking for ways to return to the past. Hindsight is 20/20 but we never learn from our mistakes. Hatred and fear, symptoms of this deeply tortured nation. I want to leave this place, I want to end the nightmare, but there is no place on Earth that isn’t infected. I collapse into the carnage. I am in free fall. At the mercy of the past. It’s over.

But it is not over. I will not let it be over.Continue Reading

THE GENERATION GAME

by Kelvin Smith

The older people I know are not rejoicing about the result of the referendum. They are sad, angry, shocked. They are doing what they can: signing petitions, writing to their MPs, looking for rays of hope in (to borrow and reclaim the phrase purloined by the current xenophobic tendency) a country they do not recognise. An additional hurt comes from a feeling that, on top of this, they are being demonised; portrayed as self-satisfied and uncaring as they bask in their privilege of free education, secure pension rights, a place to live and a little money in the bank. The word ‘baby-boomer’ has become a term of abuse. ‘Pensioner’ has become code for selfish old bastard.

The principle of the secret ballot means that the British voting system cannot provide definitive information about the demographics of the ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ votes, but this has not stopped the press from putting forward as fact the idea that older voters were the reason for a ‘leave’ majority. I have not seen any statistics that explain this except for a reliance on polls that we all now know are unreliable. But then this has been a referendum based on lies so there’s no reason to think this should be any different.Continue Reading

IS ANOTHER EUROPE POSSIBLE? – AN INTERVIEW WITH NATALIE BENNETT

by Rowan Gavin

With just four days until polling day, the EU referendum continues to dominate news headlines and pub conversations. Like many, I have been exhausted by the fearmongering, unconvincing and generally depressing arguments churned out by the mainstream campaigns on both sides. So when The Norwich Radical asked me to interview Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, about the positive Green case for staying in the EU, I was excited to hear some refreshing ideas on the topic. I also got the chance to speak to David Raby, a Green Party City Councillor in Norwich.

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CAN I HAVE AN EDUCATIONAL REFUND?

by Candice Nembhard

It’s not wrong to ask what university is actually for, is it? As a soon to be graduate, it almost seems expected to find myself questioning what I have been doing for the last three years. Admittedly, a lot of all-nighters and sleep, but more importantly, I am pondering as to what I’ve actually learnt in my time as a student.

I’ve had a flick through all my old notes, essay papers, and emails and amidst it all, I am struggling to find that hallmark which encapsulates what it means to be a student and a humanities one at that.  I am not necessarily taking a stab at the content of my degree, rather I am querying its usefulness, and how I can apply what I’ve been taught into my daily activities. No doubt there are many modules, books, and ideas that will stay with me for some time to come, but my question is, what is the practical value of obtaining a degree and should there even be one?Continue Reading

DEAR STUDENTS: IT’S OK TO BE RICH

by Candice Nembhard

As someone who prides themselves on coming from a Black, working class background, I can honestly say that my attitude towards wealth, especially inherited wealth is not as big a deal as many may think. I am fully aware that an institution such as university is a privilege, which in itself brings together people of different backgrounds and different experiences in their upbringing. That in part is what makes the experience of being a student all the more interesting — being invited into a world unbeknownst to you.

In that respect, university life is a microcosm of our society: people of differing economic status and political alliances co-existing (for the most part). As I said, my attitudes to wealth are largely unaffected, but I cannot deny that I have noticed that attitudes towards wealth from students who come from a ‘privileged’ background, often come with the feeling of shame.Continue Reading

“I WOULD DESCRIBE MYSELF AS AN ECONOMIC LIBERAL” – AN INTERVIEW WITH CHARLIE KINGSBURY, LIBERAL YOUTH CO-CHAIR

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by Chris Jarvis

It’s no secret that the Liberal Democrats are far from the most popular political party in Britain today. After the General Election, they were left with just 8 MPs, and were ousted from their position as junior coalition partners in Government. For the preceding years, they attracted mockery, ire, and ridicule in equal measure, not least from young people and students, a group who once made up a significant proportion of their voter base – especially in the dizzy days of Cleggmania.

I’m still fascinated, then, by the fact that they have managed to maintain a sizeable membership through this time, including among young people. Why would a young person join the Liberal Democrats, and why would they remain active in the party? This intrigue is what led to me interviewing Charlie Kingsbury, current co-chair of Liberal Youth, as part of a series of interviews focusing of the role of young people in shaping British politics.Continue Reading

BURNHAM CAN’T SAVE US: A RESPONSE TO ‘THE BEATING HEART OF LABOUR’

by Chris Jarvis

On August 21st, The Norwich Radical published an article — The Beating Heart of Labour — where the writer endorsed Andy Burnham in the Labour Leadership Election. Over the next 1,000 words, I intend to address the primary arguments in that article and why I believe them to be fundamentally wrong; why I believe Andy Burnham to be just as damaging to the Labour Party, its electoral prospects and likewise the country as Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall, and why Jeremy Corbyn, albeit far from a political panacea, is without doubt the best candidate in the election and therefore the arguments presented in the previous piece are misguided and wrong.

The first major pitfall of the argument is rooted in what the article itself critiques —  that Corbyn is unelectable. While Senior is right to reject the mythical notion of ‘electability’ as the primary motivation a member should have in selecting one leadership candidate over another, by suggesting that ‘economic credibility’ is central to any successful general election strategy, she fails to dismiss the electability myth for what it is— a rhetorical creation designed by a right wing media and out of touch political commentators to silence radicalism and deviation from political norms. The concept of a candidate or a political perspective as being ‘electable’ as we commonly understand it relies on the assumption that public opinion is somehow unmovable — that the political position of the electorate is largely static, and the role of political parties is to move towards it, and whichever is best and simulating this elusive point of view will win any forthcoming election.Continue Reading

EDUCATION IS A LIFE-LONG PROCESS: VIEWS OF NORWICH SOUTH CANDIDATE LESLEY GRAHAME #3

by Lesley Grahame, Green Party Norwich South candidate.

 At its best, Education is a lifelong, joyful, process, that equips each person to live well and take part in society.  It develops our capacity and enables us to put it to good use, for our own and the common good.  Education is a public service that benefits society in the sense that everyone stands to gain from the success of everyone else.  The increasing penetration of market forces does not support this need, in fact it undermines it by decision-making processes that tend towards institutional, rather than public interests. Local communities are best served by schools operating under Local Authority, i.e. elected control.

There are some parallels in the marketisation of health and education, from my own experience. A parent told me her son was injured at school, and she wanted to know why nobody phoned to tell her at the time, why the incident  had been allowed to happen, and what was being done to prevent further occurrence.  Instead of answering her, the school asked her to withdraw her Facebook comments.  The parent rang the council,  who told her they had no jurisdiction because it was a free school.

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THE BOXES ARE BACK – MASS ACTION FOR FREE EDUCATION AT UEA

by Chris Jarvis.

With tuition fees at £9,000, cuts to education funding, the scapegoating of international students, reform to DSA, squeezes on staff pay and pensions, and the slashing of bursaries and scholarships, access to education is for many becoming more of a myth and less of a reality. Instead of an education system that works for all, Universities are undergoing a lengthy process of marketization and privatisation which prices the poor and disadvantaged out of ever getting a degree.Continue Reading

WHY THE YOUNG GREENS ARE GETTING ORGANISED THIS YOUNG WORKERS MONTH

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by Thomas French.

Being young sucks. Let’s make that pretty clear, and it’s only getting worse. This Government (and New Labour before it) seems pretty hell bent on making your under 30s just the worst.

Raising the retirement age, destroying public services, increasing tuition fees, cutting EMA and trying their best to make workplaces unsafe, it didn’t seem possible, but this Government led by some lame old white people has made being young worse.

But on the other side, some youth and student led groups are working hard on the fight back, kicking off at these issues and organising to make sure out future isn’t is bleak as those boring Tories want it to be. The Young Greens are leading the way on this, and among other things, we’re asking young people to GET ORGANISED!Continue Reading

BUILDING THE MOVEMENT FOR FREE EDUCATION: THE STUDENT RADICAL #4

In certain circles, there is the perception that the transformation to the ideal of the student as consumer is complete and that therefore the student activist and a radical student movement is a thing of the past. Although there was the anti-fees flashpoint in 2010, the argument goes, now the modern student is more concerned with getting their money’s worth from the education they directly pay for, than they are about changing the world.

Over the last four years there have been countless examples of campaigns that prove this thesis wrong. This series of articles seeks to explore those campaigns, what they have achieved and what they mean for the student movement and the Higher Education sector as a whole.

by Chris Jarvis.

Estimates vary, but between five and ten thousand students marched through central London on Wednesday 19th of November. Under a multitude of banners, they brought with them a single central message – education should be a public good, not a commodity, and therefore should be free for all.

After a series of governments of many colours have introduced and then deepened the commercialisation of Higher Education, Universities are now run more like businesses than ever before. The principles at the core of Higher Education now are those of the market. In this context, a campaign, a movement or a march that calls for education to be free, and to shift the financing of education from the student to the state appears on the face of it to be fundamentally reactive.Continue Reading

THE GREEN SURGE IS EXCITING – BUT NOT SURPRISING

by Georgia Elander

Things are looking good for the Green Party. This week the Green candidate in the Rochester and Strood by-election won nearly five times as many votes as the Liberal Democrat candidate; a YouGov poll revealed that the percentage of people who would vote for a Green candidate with a chance of winning is greater than the percentage of people who would vote for a UKIP candidate who could win; and this week too, the Greens polled at 8% nationally – a record high. In recent weeks, the party have outpolled the Lib Dems on several occasions, and membership as well as vote share is rising – the party has grown 80% this year alone.

When you look at the current political landscape of the UK, this success is not really surprising.Continue Reading

THEY’RE BACK: FREE EDUCATION MARCH TAKES LONDON BY STORM

by Jack Brindelli.

Thousands of enraged students marched through the streets of the capital on Wednesday November 19th to call for Free Education – despite warnings of ‘health and safety’ issues causing the NUS to withdraw its support for the demonstration. Regardless, over 4000 students still converged on London, in an energetic march that toured past flashpoints such as Parliament Square – the site of a mass police kettle in December 2010 – and a number of sites belonging to corporate tax-dodgers like Starbucks. It was, as a result, a predictably vibrant and radical affair, which promises to revitalise both the student and anti-cuts movement – with a focus not just on student issues, but a distinct call for an alternative to austerity present in every section of the march.

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