UCL Cut The Rent and UCL Demo for Education, two of the most active student activist groups at UCL, fought a turf war yesterday as both protested in the Main Quad.
In theory, this was a joint protest. Fay, from Cut The Rent, stated that both groups were all “about accessibility to education.” However, as the protest went on, it became clear that tension was rising between the groups, until it got to the point were both groups tried to “out chant’ the other.
One organiser commented that it had turned into a “dual demo.”
UCL Demo for Education was protesting to stop UCL from joining in with the new Higher Education reforms. They were particularly critical about the introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) which will determine if a University can raise its fees. Anna, one of the leaders of the demo, stressed that the TEF rating system had “nothing to do with teaching quality.”
The protest links in with a petition asking UCL to opt-out of the reforms.
At the moment, the petition has around 300 signatures. It will be handed into UCL in tomorrow, so that the university will have time to consider the petition before making their final decision about the reforms in January.
Justine, the organiser of the demonstration, made it clear that if UCL rejected the petition student action would increase. She told the crowd to “come back in the new year louder, stronger and more disruptive.”
However, a number of Cut The Rent protesters were unaware of the goals of UCL Demo for Educations, with one protestor remarking “What is TEF?”
Fay told Pi Media that Cut the Rent had joined the protest to “raise awareness” about their cause in preparation for a “possible rent strike in January.”
Even with two groups involved in the protest this afternoon, turnout was low, with only slightly more than 30 students showing up.
One observer commented that it was just “not the time” for a protest at this point in the term.
Featured image: Lucy Bacon