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10 Times University Students Fought For Change In 2015

Students are often on the receiving end of a lot of bad press for their involvement in protests of any kind, sometimes meaning that the reasons behind their campaigns don’t get the deserved level of recognition. In light of this, here are some occasions on which students fought for change in 2015 that ought to be commended.

1. When students across the UK took part in marches in support of Global Divestment Day.

Rallying for a huge step forward in the fight against climate change, 25,000 students joined the movement asking for universities, among other organisations and institutions, to take more responsibility for their contribution to climate protection and end their financial support for the fossil fuel industry. This has since led to several universities in the UK divesting from fossil fuels.

2. When students at the University of Manchester called for free education in protest of government cuts.

The students, who were part of the Free Education MCR movement, occupied part of the university’s business school, taking a stance against the government’s plans to make further cuts to funding that would negatively affect students. The protest took on another element when the student protesters accused the university of ‘siege tactics’ that refused them the right to protest peacefully.

3. When students at the London School of Economics protested for a free and fairer education system with the Occupy LSE movement.

Calling for an education system that doesn’t prioritise business over the accessibility of education for all, Occupy LSE organised a march, workshops and several events under the title of ‘Free University of London’ to encourage talks between students and academics about the benefits of and need for free education. They occupied part of campus, poignantly stating: “We think that the university is being run for profit and this means that it is both students and workers’ rights that are not being valued.”

Mercedes Domenech for The Daily Touch

photo by Mercedes Domenech for The Daily Touch

4. When students launched a reactionary campaign against the government’s decision to cut maintenance grants.

In a bid to highlight how detrimental the cuts to maintenance grants will be for the students who rely on them, thousands of students took to the streets of London, campaigning for an education that doesn’t leave students in debt they may never be able to pay off.

5. When students took to Manchester to participate in the anti-austerity march which was planned to coincide with the Conservative Party Conference.

In response to government plans to replace maintenance grants with loans, the 60,000 strong march showed a united front of students from across the country engaging with political issues affecting them. In spite of the many demonstrations, the plans went ahead and all maintenance grants have now been cut for students.


photo by Emily Carter for The Daily Touch

6. When these UCL students went on a successful rent strike over unacceptable student accommodation.

After campaigning for several months in protest of unbearable living conditions that made it near impossible to work or sleep, the university finally awarded the affected students £100,000 in compensation.

7. When students across the country walked out of university in solidarity with migrants.

In response to dissatisfaction with government policy on immigration and the implementation of borders around education, students walked out of lectures in order to make their stance clear by standing united with migrants and campaigning for the importance of education for all. Students from the Royal College of Arts specifically targeted the Daily Mail’s headquarters in protest of their stance on immigration.

8. When SOAS students rallied in protest after a member of staff was suspended for his suspected involvement in allowing a student occupation.

Students gathered outside a number of buildings at SOAS in anger at the suspension of Sandy Nicoll, the Unison branch secretary who had worked at the university for 21 years, after he was accused of allowing the students to go ahead with an occupation. They were originally reacting in response to unfair pay for university staff members and considered the suspension to be a way of barring their right to protest. Nicoll has since been reinstated.

9. When students from across the UK gathered in London to campaign against the profitisation of higher education in the UK.

The protests took place in response to the cutting of over 500 foundation course places and the rising cost of education, in spite of the persistently high wages of those in the top jobs at universities in the UK.

10. And when students campaigned against the government’s apparent willingness to invest more in war than education.

Along with the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC), students rallied in protest of the recent decisions by government to cut student maintenance grants and cut bursaries for student nurses, while at the same time being prepared to invest heavily in war against Syria.

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