Over 50 people attended a public meeting to discuss methods of opposing the coalition government’s planned education cuts, however, no strong actions were agreed upon.
Organised by Socialist Students Lincoln (SSL) the meeting took place on Wednesday, November 17th at the St Mary Le Wigford Church after a last minute venue change from the university’s Jackson Lecture Theatre.
A panel of speakers were present at the meeting, including several lecturers from the University of Lincoln, local union representatives and students.
Jo Sams, president of SSL, welcomed the public and set the tone for the meeting: “Education is a right, and these savage cuts will stop people from wanting to go to university.”
Lecturer and member of the University and College Union (UCU) Dave Kenyon believes the cuts will encourage “parent pester power”. This could lead to pressure being put on students to find a degree course directly linked to the economy, ignoring less financially useful courses that still “benefit civilisation”. He added that David Cameron’s very idea of the big society would fail without an emphasis on the arts.
Dan Derricott, the vice president of academic affairs at Lincoln SU, described higher education as a “vehicle of growth”, while dismissing the “Con-Dem” plans as a “regressive and ideological agenda”.
Derricott said he plans to build on the momentum achieved by the London protest. However, when questioned he could not provide the SU’s official stance on the national walkout of lectures that has been planned for November 24th.
Lecturer and UCU member Richard Keeble launched a witty attack on what he described as the government’s emphasis on “warfare [and] not welfare”. Highlighting British spending on defence, “military offence spending”, and suggesting cuts in the military department as a viable alternative to cutting education.
Robert Parker, a lecturer and UCU member, said that “it is families with the lowest income that are likely to be deterred from entering higher education”, adding that the government’s plans are “marketising education”.
The representative from Lincoln and Districts’ Trade Council, Nick Parker, labelled the coalition’s plans as an “absolute declaration of war… on students and workers”. He also described the London protests as a “magnificent day of action”.
Many of the speeches were impassioned, gaining rapturous applause from the audience. Following the talks the speakers and the audience brainstormed ideas for future action.
Student Scott Wheeler said: “The most important person to get on board is the SU president”, he also congratulated the SU on their organisation of Lincoln’s role in the London NUS protest.
Charlie Giggle, student and member of SSL, attributed the large turnout to the “dedication” of everyone involved in the meeting.
Everyone present at the meeting agreed on the need to increase the movement, and that more creative methods should be used to draw attention; citing music events as a good idea.
The group has already organised their first demonstration against the cuts, which will take place on November 24th, with a march starting at 1:30pm from Castle Hill to the SOAP Centre at the University of Lincoln.Tweet