Laurie Chen reports on the latest developments from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts
Student activists belonging to the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) have recently announced their planned demonstration route, which will target the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in Whitehall. The National Demonstration for Free Education and Living Grants will take place on 4 November, and will assemble at Malet Street before proceeding through central London to the government department.
Similar to large-scale national student protests organised by the NCAFC in previous years, this year’s planned demonstration will call for free education and full living grants for all students. This comes after the government’s recently announced proposal to cut maintenance grants for the 2016/17 cohort of university students, and the announcement that tuition fees may further rise in line with the Teaching Excellence Framework.
Instead, the NCAFC is calling for non-means-tested living grants, a system which would mean that all students will receive non-repayable grants to fund their living costs, regardless of their respective household income. According to the organisation, this alternative funding system would be supported by taxing the rich and expropriation of the banks.
The demonstration will also demand an end to the scapegoating and deportation of international students, along with supporting the defence of migrants’ rights. The planned route will also pass the Home Office en route to BIS.
Explaining the decision, Callum Cant, NCAFC NC, said:
“Destroying maintenance grants and introducing maintenance loans puts the poorest student in the most debt. If implemented, this policy will do irreparable social damage. […] Only when they hear us on the streets outside will they realise that students are not taking this lying down. Until they make a u-turn on this disgusting policy, students will apply more and more pressure.”
Sahaya James, NUS National Executive, said:
“With the magnitude of attacks facing further and adult education, FE as we know it and the essential opportunities it offers could be all but lost by 2020. […] With 5 years of the Tories ahead of us and a further assault on student funding with the scrapping of maintenance grants to accompany the already lost EMA, education is set to become ever more exclusive and free of diversity. Now is the time for FE students to lead the fight for a free, accessible and liberated education.”
Featured image credit: Tamara Hopewell