No room in Oxford for David Willetts

(For more details on why we picketed David Willetts, it is well worth reading the piece also on the EAN website, in conjunction).

Students from all over Oxford gathered today to send a resounding message of no confidence in universities minister David Willetts, in a picket at St Peter’s College that lasted around two and a half hours.  At the start there were around 150 to 200 students assembled, enough to fill a large part of the street outside the hall.

Today’s protest reflects a growing anger among the student body, as the first year hit by the fee rises enters Oxford. Turnout was considerable, and swelled further by students from Brookes and Ruskin. The mood was energetic and militant, and Willetts was prevented from speaking for more than ten minutes due to the protest.

From the occupation of the Radcliffe Camera to the large and lively protest against Vince Cable in Oxford in 2010, we have a strong tradition of opposing attacks on higher education. The message today was clear- stopping Willetts being welcomed to Oxford was just the beginning. The next step is to join the thousands of students that will be in London on November 21st. We need to demonstrate that when Willetts and his colleagues attack our education, we will fight back.

See you in London on the 21st.

Nathan Akehurst

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Student Solidarity and the Quebecois Example

The streets of Quebec have been been echoing with the clanging and chiming of pots and pans, the sounds of the student uprising that has swept this province of eight million the last eight months. Sparked off by the provincial government’s move to raise tuition fees by 75%, over three hundred thousand students went on strike in the longest and largest popular movement in Canadian history. Armed with squares of red felt clinging to their collars, students underwent months of nightly demonstrations, daily direct actions and monthly general strikes, morphing into a ‘social strike’ encompassing a significant cross-section of Quebecois society, and finally succeeding in toppling the government and reversing the tuition hike. Its greatest legacy ,  however, was in infusing a generation of young women and men with the spirit of democratic discourse, politicising not only the entire student body but also civil society at large. Read more of this post

Report: Strike at Lambeth College, London

Lambeth College UCU and supporters

Lambeth College UCU members took 1 hour strike action on Friday 13th from 9 to 10am. The action was in response to the college’s lesson observation policy which has become punitive and unsupportive and is now being used to dismiss members of staff. The large crowd was addressed by a wide range of speakers including UCU executive members Sean Vernell and Mark Campbell as well as Sara Tomlinson from Lambeth NUT.

South London Education Activist Network had made a new banner “Students & Workers – Unite and Fight” on Thursday night and marched alongside lecturers with their sound system blasting ‘Get Up Stand Up’. Martha Julings, joint-Women’s Officer at Goldsmiths Students’ Union, spoke on behalf of students, congratulating the workers on their strike action and calling for more unity and collaboration between students and workers, as the NUS demonstration in Autumn approaches.