GPTU statement issued by P.Murry (GPTU Secretary) drafted by Spin Pitman
The GPTU applauds the nationwide wave of student protests in response to the government assault on education funding. As of Monday 6th December 21 universities were under occupation alongside regular organised marches in many towns.
Higher education is currently faced with total budget cuts of 45% with up to 80% being taken out of block teaching grants. This is accompanied by increased marketisation of the HE system due to the move towards differential fees between universities and courses, leading to institutional competition based on cost, rather than academic excellence.
Fees are also set to rise by up to three times the current level to £9000. Many students who would have been applying to university in 2012, when the reforms are due to come in, are already being put off and considering looking for employment instead.
The abolition of EMA will result in fewer students from disadvantaged backgrounds accessing further education, directly impacting the diversity of university applicants and resulting in more people seeking employment at age 16.
The house of commons is set to vote on the proposals this Thursday (9th December) with further mass demonstrations planned across the country.
The momentum shown by the student movement over the last month is commendable and acts as inspiration to the wider trades union movement. Coalitions are starting to form between the two groups with the actions taken also garnering wide public support. Maintaining this energy will be vital if the devastating impact of the cuts is going to be fully minimised.
The Edinburgh uni occupation has compiled a fully updated list of ongoing occupations here: http://edinunianticuts.wordpress.com/other-occupations/