On Wednesday 27 January, students and staff from schools and universities all over Scotland gathered outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh to demonstrate against cuts to the education budget.The protest was called by Edinburgh University's Student Association and supported by the Educational Institute of Scotland, UCU and NUS in response to the cuts being faced by Moray House, the school of education at the University of Edinburgh. The school may have to cut around 300 student places, which could in turn lead to up to forty staff redundancies. This comes as the Scottish Government abandons its election promise of cutting class sizes in primary education. One student questioned how staff were to roll out the so-called Curriculum for Excellence, which has the stated aim of achieving "a transformation in education in Scotland by providing a coherent, more flexible and enriched curriculum," while contracting the "excellent teachers" who could deliver it.
About 150 protesters marched from Moray House to the Scottish Parliament where a delegation from UCU went in to speak to ministers. While outside, the protesters chanted and sang songs and were met by several MSPs, including Richard Baker, MSP for the North East region of Scotland, who came out to show their support. During the protest, a class of school children were being given a tour of the parliament building and clapped and cheered when going past the protesters.
Towards the end of the rally the demonstrators were addressed by the Shadow Minister for Schools, Ken Macintosh, EUSA's external convenor, Katherine McMahon, and a UCU representative.
The demonstration was followed by a meeting where groups from different universities, including the Aberdeen Defend Education Campaign and the president of NUS Scotland, Liam Burns, discussed how to coordinate action against cuts to the education budget, in particular Lord Mandelson's proposed 950 million pound cuts in higher education spending.
A statement from the president of Dundee University's Student Association called on students to oppose the view that universities should be run as businesses. "Education is the bedrock of any society and needs investment."
Terry Wrigley from the UCU pointed out that the Government has money to bail out the banks and rebuild trident, but that when it comes to education and other public services people are told that they will have to pay for the recession.
Aberdeen Defend Education Campaign