After interviewing Liam Burns at the NUS Student Media summit, I found it fascinating that here was man, elected in to office to be the unilateral voice of students across the UK, unable to do the one thing he wanted to enact as President; to organise a National Demo, in which students across the country could get their voices heard in the capital before another damaging bill to Higher Education students.
He was voted down at the NUS national conference. The bill he attempted to put through would have moved the NUS to begin organising Unions across the country to mobilise students to London, for another large protest to shout to the government; this isn’t what we as concerned students want, nor is it a situation that we got ourselves in to.
As mentioned previously, the motion was voted against. The argument for this was that it would’ve been too expensive, too “time consuming” for us to be concerned about. At what price does the right to education come at? According to the representatives who voted against this bill, it was OK for those of us nearing completion of our degrees and courses to have, in comparison, a small fee to pay off, a mere nuisance to our bank accounts for 15 years. I find this argument, if anything, lazy and damning of those who haven’t even considered the world of Further Education, the dream of attending University that was unthinkable for the vast majority of students 30 years ago. We are the lucky few.
Education, free for the masses at the point of access, was a revolutionary idea in this country. Many in power thought that it was a waste of time, and that the government should spend any money on it. However, it was eventually persuaded to give all children the right to a free education.
This movement had continued for well over a century, until the beginning of this century at least, when a price was put on the cost of furthering your abilities, be it academic or non-academic; whether you are interested in learning to film documentaries or research the possibility of string theory.
Again, another argument arose; how can we possibly afford to pay for the further education of our young en masse? There is no immediate return in terms of profitablity from our citizens so why are we paying for it? I believe the crux of the argument lies there; a constant want of constant profitability. I also believe that at this we should say no; we are not here to be commoditized citizens, at such a high buy in price. Don’t let the “pay it back style” form of edu-credit fool you. This credit style education is a form of what got us in to the situation the country, nay, the international economy in to what it is at the moment. As Mr Cameron said in his speech this week; “the only way to deal with a debt crisis is to deal with your debt”. Not allowing future generations of intelligent, underprivileged and at the core the mass of society, to be able to access further education is why we need to stand up and continue to say no, not in my name.
Our Students Union needs to join the campaign against cuts that will directly affect next years students. Our elected President, who in her Question Time debate during elections said that we should not focus on the campaign against fees and cuts and concentrate on the welfare of our students. To not focus on this ongoing campaign would be a damaging legacy of our Students Union, and would condemn our future students. We voted in an EGM last year to back the campaign against fees and cuts, and we should stick to our word.
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