Since the Government’s announcement of a review of higher education, LUSU has taken a stand against the possible rise in fees which many students fear will be the result of the review.
Along with thousands of students across the country, LUSU is banding together to protest against the prospect of increased fees. One of its primary concerns is the lack of representation of students’ views, despite the fact that it is students who will be most affected by the decision. It is because of this lack of representation that LUSU and other student unions feel forced to protest about such matters.
As current fees stand, the average student will leave university with around £20,000 worth of debt. Those that are lucky may find a job with a starting salary of the same amount, but most will have an approximate starting salary of £19,000. Paying back this debt is already a daunting prospect for students across the country, without considering an increase in fees.
If fees were to go up, students could be looking at leaving university with debt that is at least double what they will be earning annually. Many feel that this would stop them from going to university at all.
LUSU President Michael Payne said “Our campaign on fairer fees and funding is aimed at raising awareness and fighting for students on the single biggest issue affecting them in over a decade,” adding, “Our campaign like many across the country aims to get the university to realise it must protect students’ interests and not just allow institutional policy to be created by one or two key people.”
Although the campaign has only just begun LUSU has been quick to gain attention and support for their cause. They pre-empted the Government’s announcement of the review on 9th November, preparing the “£30,000 for a degree?” posters which were put up across campus first thing on the Monday morning.
In addition they readied a letter to local MP Ben Wallace, asking him to pledge his support to the campaign. Copies of this letter were distributed in porters’ lodges across campus by 6pm that evening for students to sign. LUSU amassed 1,300 signed copies of these letters and took them to Wallace during the protest outside the Town Hall on Friday 13th November. After an hour of students protesting outside the hall, the MP emerged to sign a pledge to fight the system as it is now and to oppose an increase in tuition fees.
Spurred on from their early success, LUSU now plan to take the campaign to the next step. Last week a new letter circulated throughout the university, this time addressed to Lancaster’s Vice-Chancellor, Paul Wellings. Wellings is one of the first to openly support the prospect of raised tuition fees, something which concerns LUSU as they fear it is not a view representative of the majority of students.
By Emma Follis