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The National Union of Students (NUS) is organising a demonstration in London on Wednesday November 10, in protest at government plans to cut funding to higher education institutions.
The ‘Fund our Future: Stop Education Cuts’ event comes in the wake of Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne, announcing a £398m decrease in funding to higher education. This is on top of the five per cent cuts already imposed and could force universities to limit the number of staff, the resources for students and the amount of places open to applicants.
“The funding cuts proposed by the government are just plain wrong,” said Robbie Pickles, LUSU President. “Higher Education is a leading British industry which supports growth in our economy and benefits hundreds of thousands of young people in the United Kingdom. For Lancaster to absorb a cut to their grant, they would be forced to increase the burden placed on students, which is already far too high for many to afford.”
Pickles supports the NUS campaign, run in partnership with the University and College Union (UCU), and encourages others to do the same.
“I will certainly be attending and hope that hundreds of Lancaster students will join me to show the government that they are at risk of plunging millions into deep and damaging debt,” said Pickles.
The demonstration is just one of a number of activities organised by the NUS aiming to influence various government policies towards higher education. Other areas of concern include the plans to privatise universities and increase tuition fees.
“Access to college and university should be based on ability, not ability to pay,” said Aaron Porter, NUS President. “Privatisation of universities and colleges could lead to price competition amongst these institutions which would make it impossible to afford for many applicants.”
Porter also points out the benefits of obtaining a degree, namely “£100,000 more in earnings over a lifetime”. Students are worried that reduced investment in higher education could result in access to university becoming a privilege available only to the wealthy.
James Cumiskey, a first year Geography student, said “the privatisation of education, forced by the government cuts to funding, would make it unaffordable to many young people and put them off continuing with their education. By doing this, the government are taking a backward step for the country.”
Cumiskey added that this would only serve to “make the rich richer and the poor poorer”.