Image: National Campaign against Fees and Cuts
[Oliver Price | News Manager]
Thousands of students gathered in London on 4th November for the ‘Grants not Debt’ protest march, protesting the state of higher education from tuition fee rises to Conservative plans to cut the student maintenance grant next year.
Amongst the attendants of the protest was Labour Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell MP, who was, “joining the students.”
He said that “your generation has been betrayed by this government, from the increase in tuition fees, the scrapping of the Educational Maintenance Allowance, and now the attack on maintenance grants and the cuts in education generally. “Education is a gift from one generation to another,” he continued, “it is not a product, a commodity to be bought and sold.”
McDonnell criticised the Conservative government again, “This government is betraying you and future generations, we need to oppose it and I’m here in solidarity with that opposition. Let me say this, your voice needs to be heard.
“This will be a peaceful demonstration and stay safe, but make sure the politicians know that we’re not going to stand for this anymore. Education is a basic human right, it is not something to be bought and sold. This generation will teach these Tories that we [Labour] will not stand by and allow them to destroy your futures.”
Despite the Shadow Chancellor’s desire for a peaceful demonstration. A few people had scuffles with the police, resulting in the arrest of 12 demonstrators.
Support and opposition could be readily found on twitter. The Location, Location, Location presenter, Kirstie Allsopp, expressed opposition to the protest saying “tertiary education is a luxury, many degrees benefit no-one but the student. It’s a privilege not a right to stay in education post A-levels.”
Tertiary education is a luxury, many degrees benefit no-one but the student. It's a privilege not a right to stay in education post A-levels — Kirstie Mary Allsopp (@KirstieMAllsopp) November 4, 2015
The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts is a campaign group that attended the protest. Members want to remove tuition fees and reverse the Conservative plans to remove maintenance grants and replace them with a loan.
Callum Cant, part of the campaign said that “the government is impoverishing the poorest students for minimal gains.”
A spokesman for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, who are responsible for universities, told the BBC it is “committed to ensuring everyone with the potential to benefit from higher education has the opportunity to do so, regardless of their background.”
Any thoughts on the protest or the future of financing a degree? Tweet us @TridentMediaUK