UNISON’S FIGHT AGAINST PROPOSED UEA STAFF PAY FREEZE

By Sean Meleady

Due to the impact of Covid-19, the University of East Anglia faces an expected £35 million shortfall. One too often neglected aspect of the crisis is the impact it has had on non-academic staff, with UEA having proposed a blanket pay freeze for all its 3,712 staff, alongside offering optional voluntary redundancies and delaying incremental raises for long service.

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TO DIVEST FROM FOSSIL FUELS, UEA MUST DIVEST FROM BARCLAYS

By Henry Webb

Higher Education institutions have the power to decide whether the fossil fuel industry lives or dies. The dominant players in the energy sector may seem unstoppable. After all, as long as the oil keeps flowing, they’ll find someone to buy it. Their lobbyists will make sure of that. But these behemoths require resources beyond those of just the raw coal, oil, and gas that we are so dependent on – they need capital. Without investment banks to finance everything from pipelines to offshore rigs, the costly infrastructure needed for fossil fuel extraction just wouldn’t exist.

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A KINDER KIND OF POWER: WORDS FROM THE UEA PICKET LINE

By Rowan Gavin

We are the morning greeting. We are cold boots on colder ground. We are the smiles in the winter sunshine. We are the chants and the songs and the stiff-limbed dances. We are the fascinator of freedomthe little red coat of resistance and packet line soylidarity. We are the educators, learning in a new classroom. We are the outrage, and the laughter. We are here to fight the power. We are power.

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THIS ELECTION IS THE FIGHT OF OUR LIVES – HERE’S HOW WE CAN WIN IT

By Bradley Allsop

The world is on the brink. A shattered environment, gargantuan inequality, a burgeoning mental health crisis, fascism openly spreading across Europe, public services at breaking point… but also the possibility of more radical and progressive change than we’ve seen in decades. Higher education specifically also faces two radically different paths ahead of it: continued marketisation, eroding academic integrity, burdening a generation with enormous debt, crushing academics under enormous workloads, increasingly insecure employment and workplace stress – or publicly funded higher education that opens up space to imagine and create a different sort of campus.

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#NOTENOUGH – UEA’S MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS

By Jess O’Dwyer

Content warning: mentions suicide

Going to university is a challenging time. For many it is their first time away from home with full independence. New students are presented with countless opportunities and choices, many of which will shape and change them as people. For people with mental health issues, however, this challenge is often exacerbated.

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THE UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL IS BULLYING STUDENTS INTO PAYING RENT

By Lewis Martin

In these days of marketisation and democratic collapse, it’s rare that a piece of news comes out from a university that is so fucked up it leaves me lost for words. But the University of Liverpool managed it, with the news that they’ve been handing down academic sanctions to students who cannot pay their rent.

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UNITED IN THE FACE OF CRISIS – THE STUDENT LEFT NETWORK

By Bradley Allsop

Make no mistake – higher education in the UK is in crisis. After decades of uncertain policy and three successive Tory-led governments with a clear desire to marketise and corporatise our campuses, we’re left with a generation burdened with debt, with an explosion in mental health issues among students, with universities bereft of democracy and increasingly fuelled by precarious labour, with Students’ Unions that are often little more than marketing arms of their universities, and with continuing inequalities in educational attainment. The passionate learning, debate and inquiry that should be the soul of education has become little more than a thin veneer pasted over profiteering and corporate-style expansion.

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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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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

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

EXAMS SHOULD BE ABOLISHED – HERE’S WHY

By Dan Davison

Examinations are woven into the fabric of student life. From the ‘Key Stage’ National Curriculum assessments I sat in childhood through to the tests I took as a Master’s student, every stage of my education has known the familiar cycle of revision, testing, marking and grading. It was not until I became a precariously employed university tutor that I realised how dangerously uncritical we are of that cycle. By this point it seems so natural to make people sit exams at various points in their lives that it scarcely occurs to the public consciousness that students and teachers might be better off without such a regimented approach to learning.

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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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WHAT ARE UNIVERSITY COMMUNITIES MADE OF? – BEYOND TUITION FEES #6

By Ellen Musgrove and Max Savage

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.

At any demonstration concerning the anti-marketisation or -commodification of education and the university you will hear the phrase “We are not consumers – we are a community.” The motive behind this message is a good one, bearing positive and uplifting implications for the demonstrators. However, to those outside the demo space, be they apathetic students passing by or workers who may not have the freedom to stop and participate as readily as an academic might, calling ourselves a community means very little in a practical sense.

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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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NOT AS SIMPLE AS R/A/G – THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH UNI RANKINGS 2018

by Lewis Martin

Content warning: mentions sexual harassment

This month, Spiked launched their newest Freedom of Speech University Rankings for 2018. The fourth edition of the rankings, which started in 2015, are an ‘assessment’ of freedom of speech on our campuses. Spiked’s methodology is simplistic. They look at the policies and actions of both universities and their students’ unions (SUs), ranging from the no-platforming of controversial speakers to their codes of conduct. They then give each uni and each SU a rank of red, amber or green, and give an overall ranking to each institution based on these two scores.

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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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CHALLENGING MISCONCEPTIONS IN THE CAMPUS FREE SPEECH DEBATE

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by Bradley Allsop

Over the last 8 years, higher education in the UK has been subject to some of the largest and most invasive reforms in its history, guided by a deliberate, neoliberal project with the aim of crafting a marketised sector. This has set a new bar for invasive reforms that is now extending into the murky realms of the ‘free speech’ debate, with recently departed universities minister Jo Johnson proposing the illogical and frankly dangerous step of imposing fines on universities whose students’ unions fail to support free speech on campus.

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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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GOING BACKWARDS – OXFORD AND THE UNIVERSITY CLASS PROBLEM

by Laura Potts

I was shocked to see in recent news that Oxford university has been accused of ‘social apartheid’ after their student intake was analysed. This story joins the long standing and highly complicated debate around the wider concept of university equality and educational fairness, revealing some worrying patterns that have begun to emerge in recent years.

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TRADING FREEDOMS – THE OFFICE FOR STUDENTS PROPOSALS

by Lewis Martin

CW: mentions transphobia

Universities must bring back freedom of speech!’ That was the premise of various headlines surrounding Jo Johnson’s announcement last week of proposed powers for the Office for Students (OfS). One of those proposals is that universities and student unions that don’t conform to Johnson and the OfS’ concept of ‘freedom of speech’ could receive sanctions in the form of fines. While the powers of OfS are still only at the consultation stage, this announcement gives us a rather concerning insight into the plans and aims that Johnson has for the newly formed office.

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NO, YOU’RE NOT A FRAUD – IMPOSTER SYNDROME IN HE

by Alex Powell

Recently I’ve started teaching as part of my PhD, and through doing so I‘ve been learning a few things myself. The most striking thing I have noticed is how skewed and extreme expectations are for people in various academic roles. Why do we assume that a lecturer in any given subject should know everything there is to know about that subject off the top of their head?

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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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CANAPES, CONFERENCES AND CLASS DISCRIMINATION – ACADEMIA IN 2017

by Bradley Allsop

CW: mentions sexual harassment

A teacake and a portable phone charger. Unlikely objects to trigger a tirade against the state of academic practices in the UK, but here you are, about to read one anyway.

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IGNITING STUDENT ACTIVISM #3 – WORKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE

by Bradley Allsop & Calum Watt

Rarely in our lifetimes has there been a more exciting time for young people to engage in politics. Change is in the air and nowhere else offers more opportunities to engage in this conversation, to learn valuable skills and to help shape society than university campuses. This series of articles seeks to offer some guidance for those aiming to ignite student activism at their institutions. Drawing on our experiences as campaigners we hope to highlight some common challenges and give you some advice on how to combat them.

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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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50 YEARS – HOW FAR HAVE WE REALLY COME?

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by Alex Powell

CW: mentions homophobia and homophobic abuse

Last week marked 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act 1967 entered into law, in the first step towards the decriminalisation of homosexuality. There’s been a great deal of coverage of this milestone in British media, including some brilliant, informative TV programming (I highly recommend the BBC’s drama ‘Against the Law’). But it is Owen Jones’s recent Guardian column ‘Hatred of LGBTQ people still infects society. It’s no time to celebrate’ that seems to have been most prominent. Jones’ arguments are certainly justified, but commentary like his risks misrepresenting the situation that now faces LGBT+ people in this country. It’s not all bad.

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SAIL AWAY, PROFESSOR HOLMES. YOU WON’T BE MISSED.

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by Rowan Gavin

As the farce of university bosses’ salaries has finally entered mainstream debate this year, I’ve often found myself wishing that the kind of people who are comfortable taking pay rises six times larger than their average member of staff, and who don’t see a problem in sitting on the committees that decide their salary, would just piss off out of our universities altogether. So when I read the FT’s interview* with Bolton Uni VC Prof George Holmes the other day, I’ll admit I was a little surprised to read his proposal for a method of achieving just that.

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IGNITING STUDENT ACTIVISM #1 – FIRST STEPS

by Bradley Allsop and Calum Watt

Rarely in our lifetimes has there been a more exciting time for young people to engage in politics. Change is in the air and nowhere else offers more opportunities to engage in this conversation, to learn valuable skills and to help shape society than university campuses. This series of articles seeks to offer some guidance for those aiming to ignite student activism at their institutions. Drawing on our experiences as campaigners we hope to highlight some common challenges and give you some advice on how to combat them.

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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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JO JOHNSON IS RIGHT FOR ONCE – SOUTHAMPTON UNI SHOULD BE ASHAMED

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by Lewis Martin

Here’s something I never thought I’d say: I agree with Jo Johnson. A couple of weeks ago the Tory Universities Minister told university leaders and Vice Chancellors that they needed to “stop ratcheting up pay”. This was a reaction to the news that the VC at Southampton University has received a £125,000 pay rise in the space of 5 years.

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REVIVING CAMPUS ACTIVISM – A ROADMAP

by Bradley Allsop

We live in turbulent times. The political establishment has been rocked again and again this last year. The government is embattled in a way it hasn’t been for 7 years and that rarest of things in British politics, change, is peeking its head above the parapet. What’s more, for the first time in my lifetime, it seems my generation is willing to be an active participant in all this. June’s election saw the highest rise in youth turnout in British political history – it reached its highest absolute level since 1992. It falls to those of us already engaged to fan this flame and help it spread beyond the ballot box, building the political courage and competencies of our fellows. Nowhere offers a better opportunity for us to do this than on university campuses.

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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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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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SHAME ON SOAS – OCCUPIERS PROTEST TREATMENT OF CATERING STAFF

By SOAS Justice for Workers

Yesterday, on the 8th anniversary of the deportation of 9 SOAS cleaners, students of SOAS began an occupation of the Directorate on the Main Building first floor. We are taking direct action in resistance to the planned shut down of the refectory and outrageous threats made by management to the livelihoods of members of our community. We stand in solidarity with the catering staff, and all the exploited workers of SOAS, in their fight for dignity and respect.

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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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IF NOT NOW, THEN WHEN? – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #6

from a member of UEA Labour Students

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.

Having resolved to sit down today and write this article, I’m struck by the appropriateness of my day. I caught the bus to UEA from outside one of the few remaining Sure Start centres, a public service provided by the last Labour government which has been decimated by the Conservatives (and Liberal Democrats) since 2010. My bus was 40 minutes late, the consequence of a privatised, under-funded service – and even the previously UEA-hosted launderette I went to had been privatised since I last used it. It served as a strong reminder of the power of Labour government to change lives for the better, which contrasts with the crumbling services and privatisation festival that has characterised the last 7 years of Conservative and ConDem government.

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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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CREATIVE & PROGRESSIVE VOICES – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #3

by Laura Potts

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.

The snap election. The vote looming over the future. We in the UK have the privilege of affecting the result. As students, young people and members of a fast changing world, voting in a western country like ours means more than just influencing your own future. Electing certain policies through parties can drastically alter how Britain relates to the rest of the world. How the next generation develop, what they value, and the state of the planet they will live on are all on the line. It is crucially important, therefore, for us each to familiarise ourselves with each party’s policies and plans. Not only is it vital to consider how these policies will affect broader issues such as the environment or foreign relations, it is also vital to be sure that the party you vote for stands to protect what you value in your country.

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EVERY VOTE COUNTS – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #2

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.

I can’t be the only one growing a little exhausted with all these elections, right? Nonetheless, tired as we are, it has never been more important that we all get out and vote. In the local elections we saw something of a decimation of left leaning parties, to the benefit of the Tories. What’s more, those elections featured some astoundingly low turnout figures, many below 30%. As a result of this, I feel it is incumbent on me to encourage anyone reading this to ensure that they get out and vote in the general election on June 8th.

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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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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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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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EASTER EGGS AND THE CAMPUS CONVENIENCE CONSUMERISM CONUNDRUM

By Laura Potts

As spring approaches, so do the grasping hands of Easter and the shelves full of egg-shaped chocolate treats, in a hundred sizes and colours. But the main thing I notice as I walk through the supermarket is the quantity of packaging that comes with them. Each egg is sealed in plastic and stored in a cardboard box, and most come with other individually wrapped chocolates. The brightly coloured decorations upon the eggs and boxes are reminiscent of nature and the beautiful colours of spring.

The great irony, of course, is that the packaging boasting this decoration directly contributes to the destruction of that natural beauty. Through this attitude to resources, companies are investing in a ‘throw away society’, and future generations will have to carry the burden.

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A CALL FOR THE DEMOCRATISATION OF POSTGRADUATE EDUCATION

By Alex Powell

New postgraduate loans have made extended higher education more accessible. While the situation is far from perfect, and access to further higher education remains restricted for many, new possibilities have been opened up. However, if students are to make the best of these opportunities, they need guidance.

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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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NOT YOUR FUCKING BARGAINING CHIP

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by Lewis Martin

Last week, 322 MPs voted against an amendment that would have assured the rights of the three million European migrants that live in the UK to remain here after Brexit. Of these three million people, roughly 6 percent are EU students. And for a majority of those, these are times of uncertainty and anxiety. Those 322 MPs, including three from Labour, have sent a clear message to EU students who want to remain in this country: you are just bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiations over the next two years.

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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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OUR DEMOCRACY REQUIRES WE MAKE 2017 THE YEAR OF THE EXPERT

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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NOT SO GREEN – UEA IN THE UNIVERSITY GREEN LEAGUE

By Lewis Martin of People and Planet UEA

This week saw People and Planet’s annual University League table released. For some universities this has been a cause for celebration – Nottingham Trent, for example, have climbed to the top of the table. However, for UEA and its students the league’s findings should be a cause for concern. Since last year Norwich’s biggest university has dropped 14 places from 34 to 48 in the table, losing 13 points in the process. This is the inevitable result of the way the university has behaved in the last year with regards to various environmental issues.

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BUSTING THE MYTH – ARTICLE 4 IS NOT ANTI STUDENT

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By Georgia Waye-Barker

Norwich has been identified as a popular place to live in England, bringing plentiful benefits, as well as its fair share of challenges. Its diverse population needs a range of housing solutions, and these need to be carefully balanced throughout the city to ensure a sustainable community and good quality of life for all.

Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) often provide housing for students and young people, who are unable to access other forms of housing. HMOs therefore provide a vital element of Norwich’s housing options. However, evidence suggests that large numbers of HMOs located in concentrated areas can have an adverse effect on the mix of housing use in the community.Continue Reading

SAFE SPACES, HUMAN KINDNESS AND THE RE-CREATION OF ADULTHOOD

By Rowan Gavin

Several months since the safe spaces debate reached the public eye, I’m sure most of you are by now overly familiar with the arguments being made on both sides. Likely you have had the misfortune of hearing someone say that, instead of attempting to exercise some control about when and how they are exposed to traumatic material, students should just ‘man up’ and ‘soldier through it’ like a certain group of people did ‘back in the day’. Recently, I heard academic John Gray on BBC radio 4’s ‘A Point of View’ making his case against safe spaces, and noticed a worrying number of parallels between his apparently sophisticated arguments and those that start with the command to ‘grow a pair’. I hope that deconstructing Gray’s 9-minute monologue can reveal a bit about how these kinds of substanceless arguments and the prejudices that motivate them attempt to veil themselves with legitimacy.

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SOCIAL CLEANSING 101: NORWICH CITY COUNCIL AND ARTICLE 4

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by Cherry Somersby

The estimated cost of living for students currently stands at £12,056 per year excluding course costs, and their average income from loans and funding leave students having to find an extra £6,071 each year. You would be forgiven for assuming that Norwich councillors would want to keep rent low and appeal to as many students as possible considering that students make up such a significant proportion of their voters, however it seems that the councillors themselves are not quite on the same page.

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NUS JOINS THE FIGHT AND BACKS RENT STRIKES

by Lewis Martin

It was announced yesterday under the cloud of A-level results that the National Union of Students (NUS) has given full backing to the rent strikes that have been happening at numerous universities up and down the country. Their reasoning behind this is that due to the rise of living in university housing on campus or other university owned places, it has almost become a secondary set of fees on top of the already high tuition fees.Continue Reading

NOT SATISFIED, BUT IRATE – WHY STUDENTS MUST BOYCOTT THE NSS

by Cherry Somersby

Just last week, a key date in the university calendar fell for another year – the release of the results of the National Student Survey (NSS). The NSS, completed by thousands of final year undergraduate students each year, is a data collection tool that is used to promote competition and rank student satisfaction in universities across the country.Continue Reading

‘SUCCESS AS A KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY’ – THE MARKETISATION OF THE HE WHITE PAPER

by Cherry Somersby

We are being scammed again. The Higher Education White Paper, whilst deliberately wordy and confusing, is the latest attack on our right to a free and fair education system. Quite poignantly, our government’s HE White Paper is titled ‘Success as a Knowledge Economy.’ As the name suggests, it is a blueprint for the further marketisation of education. It is a model deliberately constructed to strangle universities of funding so that they can never improve when they fail to meet new Teaching Excellence Framework standards, and it is a further attempt to rank and commercialise universities where education is seen as a commodity to be bought and sold, and students are taught that they exist only as consumers.Continue Reading

UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL: NUS DISAFFILIATIONS

by Cherry Somersby

Today, the Higher Education White Paper was published, with its proposals for entrenched market forces in Univerisites and further increased tuition fees. The media narrative beforehand, though, was not of the hard work NUS  have put into fighting this, but instead on disgruntled Students’ Unions looking to sever their ties from their national union. In one week, two universities have disaffiliated from NUS. The 9th of May saw Lincoln SU vote in a referendum to disaffiliate, and on the 12th, Newcastle followed suit. With more referendums to come, most notably at Oxford and Cambridge, it is highly likely that we will see more disaffiliations. Now more than ever, we must recognise the growing disillusionment with NUS that has been gaining momentum at an alarming rate all year.Continue Reading

MY AFTER DARK EXPERIENCE AS ANOTHER STUDENT’S LIFELINE

Disclaimer: mentions suicide

by Olivia Davis

Nightline is unique.

A phone call at 3AM under normal circumstances as a regular student would result in a sigh or occasionally, slight frustration. However, at Nightline it is an opportunity for a student to reach out when they may be feeling at a low or a vulnerable point in their life. As a volunteer listening service operating at over 50 universities in the UK with over 2000 student volunteers, Nightline operates as a reliable network for fellow students.

Norwich Nightline is open for both UEA and NUA students, 8PM-8AM everyday of term, regardless of exams or holidays. “We’ll listen, not lecture” is the main policy volunteers abide by in our mission to provide others in need of guidance.Continue Reading

THE FUTURE OF THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2016 – DANIEL NIKOLLA

The Norwich Radical was born in the student movement, and we continue to be an active part within it. We recognise that while official structures are not the sum total of the movement, they play an undeniably important part and to understand the political consciousness of the student movement, you need to, in part, look at the National Union of Students. As we move into election season for the new NUS President, Vice Presidents and National Executive Council, we contacted all candidates in those elections and offered them the space to write about their election campaigns, why they are standing and their vision for NUS.

By Daniel Nikolla

I am a citizen of the world and I am the President of City and Islington College. Being a full time student, unpaid Student Union Officer and a non-EU International student in the UK is not easy at all! I take inspiration from the difficult things I have achieved in the past – Being an amateur to semi-PRO footballer from the age of nine, to moving to the UK aged 20. I also take inspiration from my family, who achieved so much in an oppressed society.Continue Reading

DETENTION CENTRES AND THE STUDENT MOVEMENT

by Sahaya James

Harmondsworth detention centre, near Heathrow, is set in an anonymous business park. You can only tell it’s a detention centre because of the barbed wire.

Campsfield detention centre, near Oxford, is accessible by a nondescript turning on a nondescript a-road. The whole site is ringed by a line of trees.

Yarl’s Wood, however, is even more hidden than the rest. It sits hundreds of meters back from the road, behind a double layer of fencing, miles and miles out into the Bedfordshire countryside.

It is, essentially, a prison. Like every detention centre, it doesn’t contain people accused and convicted of crimes — it contains people without UK passports. Specifically, Yarlswood contains women and children.Continue Reading

THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A FUCKING STUDENT BUBBLE

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by Robyn Banks

Once upon a time, a man named Tony Blair looked in to a mirror, turned out the lights and repeated ‘Education, education, education’. Little did he know at the time that this event would herald the eventual downfall of civilisation through the birth of a whole new kind of student totally unlike the hardy and privileged students of old. If you come on to UEA campus at night you’ll see these new students, sleeping peacefully in their incubated pods in the library and the lecture halls, wrapped in blankets of bubble wrap and trigger warnings. They’re a bit like adults, these students, but not quite. They’re certainly adult enough to have a tabloid smear campaign waged against them, but, unlike other adults, these students have never seen the outside world.

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FREEZE PEACH

by Robyn Sands

The narrative of free speech has become increasingly complicated. It would be easy to assume that only teenagers and the most reactionary bigots would be likely to claim their right to free speech had been violated after having their views disagreed with, protested against, or denied a prestigious platform. But as this misunderstanding was repeated time and time again — cries of censorship followed UEA union shops decision to stop buying a newspaper it couldn’t even sell, legitimate protest was written off as silencing and oppression — it seems to have seeped in to the public consciousness.

Today, even the most critical thinkers seem to forget that the right to free speech doesn’t grant them the right to say whatever they like, wherever they like, and to be granted whichever platform they consider themselves worthy of. I have no right to walk in to my local KFC and preach vegetarianism on their property, just as I have no right to claim I am being silenced because The Guardian refused to publish this article.Continue Reading

LIVING WAGE: NOT AN ACT OF CHARITY

by Katy Quigley, UEA Unison Equalities Rep

Over the last six weeks a campaign has slowly taken shape for the Living Wage to be introduced at UEA. Whilst this mainly affects the trade union Unison’s members, the two other trade unions on campus – UCU and Unite – as well as the Union of UEA students, have all begun to work together to ensure that those at the lowest end of the pay scale are paid a fair wage.

With the minimum wage set at £6.50 for those aged 21 and over, many people are confused about the point of a Living Wage campaign, or even what the Living Wage would mean in real terms. The reality is that the minimum wage simply does not pay enough to provide what members of the public, according to research undertaken by the University of Loughborough, deem an ‘acceptable standard of living’. At the moment this is set at £7.85. The Living Wage is not an act of charity: paying workers a fair wage for their living gives them dignity, reduces sickness and absence rates, and improves staff retention rates.  When a business does not pay the Living Wage it is local support groups, council services, and national welfare that pick up more of the bill to top up the worker’s income.

Employers who do not pay the Living Wage are therefore asking people to earn their poverty, and the University of East Anglia is unfortunately one of the culprits.

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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