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On Wednesday of Week 7, LUSU joined a coalition of other student groups and campaigns on a march through London as part of the Free Education Demonstration, which works under the banner Free Education: No Fees, No Cuts, No Debt. Despite the NUS withdrawing from the demo in Week 5, LUSU maintained their support for the campaign, and took a group of students on coaches to the event last week.
This move highlights the increasing opposition to the government fees and privatisation in education. Students from across the country are participating in this demonstration because they are clearly very unhappy with what they are getting. As LUSU said in a statement on their website: “The students of today are on the worst deal of any cohort in the history of UK higher education. The current trajectory looks set to continue, set to worsen, and set to make today’s deal pale in comparison to the deal of tomorrow.” Their statement highlights the betrayal by the government; firstly by the Labour government who tripled tuition fees to £9,000 and then again by the Liberal Democrats who promised to scrap tuition fees but went back on this promise when joining a coalition with the Conservatives in 2010.
In their article, the Full Time Officer team highlight how important this demonstration is for students Lancaster University as the University are currently discussing increasing tuition fees for both postgraduate and international students. They said: “It would also appear that the University of Lancaster has no intention of leading by example. Currently, the University is in discussions to increase its own fees by 5%, the rationale being that it will bring the institution in line with its competitors. This, it seems, is how universities across the UK views its paying students – as cash cows recruited to facilitate marketisation and competition.”
As well as attending the demonstration LUSU wrote the following letter to Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw, expressing their concerns and presented it to him on last week:
Dear Mr Ollerenshaw,
Today Lancaster students are demonstrating for a fairer deal in higher education.
Four years ago they did the same, alongside 100,000 other students. But despite
this being the most active demonstration of political engagement from young people
for almost a generation, your Coalition government completely ignored them. And
people wonder why young people don’t trust politicians.
Today you have the chance to gain that trust back. Young people are fed up:
We’re fed up of graduating with upwards of £50,000 worth of debt to be
thrown into a graduate job market where demand far outweighs supply.
We’re fed up of having to pass up on postgraduate study or un- and
under-paid internships because we just can’t afford to do them.
We’re fed up of never thinking we’ll be able to own our own houses, and
forever be at the mercy of private landlords.
We’re fed up of seeing our international friends demonised for daring to
enter this country.
And we’re fed up of seeing our planet decimated.
Lancaster and Fleetwood is a constituency with a majority of just 333. We are not
exaggerating when we say the student vote could make it or break it.
I will be encouraging fellow students to vote, and to vote not just for candidates who
offer a fairer deal in higher education, but a fairer deal in life. I would like to know
what you, as the Conservative parliamentary candidate, plan on doing to win our
In eager anticipation,
In the week building up to the demo, LUSU encouraged students to sign the letter as well as add their own ‘fed ups’. The FTO team said “More than ever, the student body needs to lay down what it expects of its future leaders, before future generations of students suffer an even worse deal.”