quinta-feira, outubro 14, 2010

Battle plan for action against Browne review

A historic attack on students

The Browne Review, which was expected to raise the cap on tuition fees has gone even further than many realised – completely abolishing the cap altogether.

Whilst it is not yet law, cabinet ministers including Lib Dem Vince Cable have said they agree with the findings of the report and intend to implement it. They will likely reproduce it in some form in the Comprehensive Spending Review with a view to the bill coming into being in the next budget.

This is in direct contradiction to their key manifesto pledge, to abolish tuition fees. It even contradicts their plans for a ‘graduate tax’, which they supported after the election. Most even signed a special NUS pledge to say they would vote against any rise in fees.

Some Lib Dems MPs have said they will rebel against their party whips – the sell-out will also anger party members. The rise in tuition fees will leave weak points exposed in the Lib Dems and therefore the coalition. The Lib Dems are therefore a key target for protest, actions etc. This is also a likely reason why the review was announced in secret and released well after its completion.

We will protest at the Lib Dem HQ in Westminster at 4pm on Oct 25.

Killing universal education

The review is an historic attack on education in several ways:
It will make higher education simply unaffordable for huge numbers of working class, and lower-middle class people.

It will create a market between universities – some will charge extortionate fees and become playgrounds for the rich. The others left behind will become increasingly badly funded, vocationally based, or will close.

As such this is also a huge attack on the idea of learning for the sake of learning and expanding working class culture. University will become a place where the ‘haves’ study to get well-paid jobs in finance and business related degrees.

Subjects such as art, philosophy and politics – the humanities – will become increasingly drained of resources as students scramble to find courses that can realistically provide them with a job that will pay off a debt worth tens of thousands.


The Browne review will have angered millions of students – those already concerned about debt at the universities – and those in FE colleges and school who want to go to university. It will also further radicalise intellectual and university teachers concerned about the wider damage to education and culture.

In this environment, a mass movement can take place – so the action we now take has to be swift and radical. Thankfully, there are already key actions organised nationally and in London, which can draw in huge numbers of students.

October 20

The march against the Comprehensive Spending Review. A student march will take place at 4pm, from ULU. We should argue for meet up points at every university in London take friends and political contacts to ULU from there.

We will use the demonstration as an opportunity to advertise the “free education” bloc on the demonstration on 10 November. Halls canvassing and stalls should be organised next week to build for the Comprehensive Spending Review demo.

November 10

This is the big joint NUS and UCU demonstration. Again feeder marches should be organised. In the run up to the demonstration we will organise postering in key areas of London, advertising the “free education” meet-up point.

We will also build this demonstration with canvassing and leaftings, and we should fight for local anti-cuts groups to support the “free education” bloc.


We will call a national walk-out and protest that can be publicised on both the 20 Oct and the NUS free education bloc on 10 Nov. A good date for this would be in the last weeks of November.

The NCAFC will organise regional meetings through which the walkout can be organised, drawing in as many students as possible – we will put particular emphasis on school on college students who will suffer worse from Browne’s review. University students where possible should ‘adopt’ a school or college to build for the walkout.

terça-feira, outubro 12, 2010

Centinaia di studenti a stazione Termini: flashmob in stazione «L'Università è su un binario morto»

Roma, stazione Termini, ore 12.00. In mezzo a migliaia di viaggiatori, si sente un fischio e una voce metallica da un megafono che dice "Trenitalia informa i signori viaggiatori che il treno dell'Università è su un binario morto". Diverse centinaia di studenti si siedono improvvisamente per terra, bloccando di fatto per alcuni minuti la stazione.

Tutti gli studenti avevano un libro in mano per denunciare i tagli e comunicare nella città e sui media la prossima mobilitazione del 14 ottobre, giornata in cui è stato lanciato l'assedio al Parlamento durante la discussione del Ddl Gelmini. Un lungo applauso dei presenti in stazione ha accolto gli studenti, che si sono poi dileguati tornando nelle facoltà in mobilitazione per continuare l'agitazione dentro l'Università.Il testo del volantino distribuito durante il flash mob:
Unica destinazione: precarietà. Noi non ci stiamo! Oggi siamo qui perchè vogliamo scegliere tra molteplici destinazioni e l'unico treno su cui vogliamo salire: quello per riprenderci il futuro che vorrebbero sottrarci. Alla coppia Tremonti-Gelmini che, smantellando scuola, università, ricerca pubblica e diritto allo studio, vorrebbe vederci andar via con una valigia, rispondiamo che rimaniamo qui, con i nostri libri, il nostro dissenso e i nostri desideri.
Next stop: Giovedì 14, facciamo sentire la nostra voce assediando Montecitorio durante la discussione del DdlGelmini per impedire l’approvazione della legge!

sábado, outubro 09, 2010

Demonstrators protest on cuts to education[@USA]

Students marched, chanted and occupied a part of Doe Library at UC Berkeley on Thursday to protest education cuts that have led to fee increases and planned layoffs.
No arrests were reported as of 6 p.m. Six fire alarms were pulled in at least two campus buildings around the time of an 11:30 a.m. walkout and after a noon rally at Sproul Plaza near Bancroft and Telegraph avenues. Some of the protesters went through Dwinelle and Wheeler halls and around the campus to knock on doors and drum up support, carrying signs with slogans such as "education is a right" and "$$$ for jobs and education".

By the time the noon rally began, Sproul Plaza was full, with as many as 1,000 demonstrators gathered to listen to speakers. A subsequent march around campus ended at Doe Library, where about 400 people took part in the sit-in at the library's North Reading Room, according to UC Berkeley spokeswoman Janet Gilmore.

Alameda County sheriff's deputies and UC Berkeley police locked entrances to the library for about an hour to prevent more people from entering. Later, authorities backed off and let people come and go but police monitored the activity inside the building.

Some students pounded desks while others chanted "Whose University? Our University!"

Students from Laney College also joined the protest inside the library and some stood on desks waiting for a response from UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau. Campus officials said the library had reached capacity.

Continue to read this newstext...Protesters hung a large banner saying "October 7 Day of Action Walkout" out of one of the reading room's windows. Many other banners were hung inside.

Students at other campuses around California also planned rallies.

At UC Santa Cruz, students dressed as zombies and "radical" cheerleaders to round up support for their gathering. According to campus police there, about 250 people showed up to chant, wave signs and listen to student leaders, politicians and faculty speeches.

The protests came on the same day California legislators began voting on a state budget that would increase higher-education funding.

Sponsors of the Day of Action included the American Association of University Professors, the Associated Students of the University of California and the UC Student Association.

terça-feira, outubro 05, 2010

Canadian Student Loan Crisis

What’s the story behind the Canadian $2-billion loan crisis?
Most of you will have noticed the news stories from a couple of weeks ago about regulatory changes to the Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP). To recap briefly, the law limits outstanding student loans to $15-billion; apparently, outstanding loans snuck up on this limit without anyone noticing, thus requiring the government to draft some emergency re-definitions of what "outstanding loans" meant in order to get through the fall without breaking the law.

There was clearly much more to that story than anyone in Government is letting on; what data is available publicly suggests that CSLP was somehow off by a full $2-billion in its calculations of outstanding debt (via the CSLP Actuarial Report). Stereotypes about impecunious public servants aside, nobody just loses $2-billion.

One possibility is that there was a misunderstanding between HRDC's legal department and Treasury Board's and that CSLP has been counting the loans to a different standard for years. Another possibility is that there has been a truly shocking shift in the student loan portfolio: big drops in repayment due to graduates not earning enough to repay their loans combined with big increases in the client base because students can't earn enough in the summer and part-time work. The least likely - but not entirely impossible - explanation is that someone made a Grade A mistake and plugged in the wrong numbers into a spreadsheet. In the absence of any hard information (the first data on the CSLP tends to come about 6 months after the end of a given loan year, meaning at the earliest, we'll have data on what happened this fall some time around March, 2012), my guess is that it was some combination of the above.

I doubt very much the Government will be very forthcoming with a public explanation for what happened. But the story can't stay contained forever; clearly, the legislation will shortly need to be amended to allow the Government to but the $15-billion mark. When that happens, inquisitive MPs from both sides of the aisle should ask for a clearer explanation of how the Government of Canada came within a couple of weeks of being legally unable to hand out student loans. It's a story that needs to be told.