yes we canada: the student movement in québec

Ollie Sutherland argues that students in the UK have much to learn from current anti-fees protests in Québec

One cannot help but contrast the current, powerful student movement in Québec, Canada, to its counterpart in the UK. It was considered a big deal when in November 2010 we had roughly 100,000 (who came from around the country) on the streets of London, whose population proper is roughly 8 million. In comparison, 200,000 turned out for recent protests in Montréal, whose population proper is roughly 1.6 million (and only 3 million in the wider urban area).

Both events were provoked by a hiking of tuition fees – in the UK a 200% increase to a whopping £9,000 a year, in Québec a 75% increase to £2,400 a year. This is not to mention Québec’s tuition fees were, and with the increase, are still lower than the North American average. This is in contrast to the UK, whose fees of £3,000, before the trebling, were already much higher than the European average. Continue reading “yes we canada: the student movement in québec”

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there’s more to politics than westminster

Greg Brown asks what is the way forward for students’ struggles after last year’s defeat on fees and EMA

With the 9th November national demonstration rapidly approaching, apprehensions over the state of the ‘student movement’ naturally arise. To be sure, the planned march against fees, cuts, abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance, and the marketisation and privatisation of Higher Education will surely be the best measure of last year’s student mobilisations.

Millbank: winter 2010 saw militant student protests

The merits of a movement can only be judged in secondary terms by parliamentary manoeuvres, i.e. whether a particular bill passes or falls, a minister resigns or is promoted, etc. As libertarians we should understand that the true strength of a social movement is in its breadth (composition) and its sustainability (spanning multiple episodes of struggle): these qualities both feed and are fed by its potential to affect consciousness at large. Continue reading “there’s more to politics than westminster”

‘this could be heaven for everyone’

Public meeting on the student movement, hosted by the London Commune. From 7pm on Thursday 10th (the day after the NCAFC demo)

Last winter saw massive protests against the rise in tuition fees and cuts to EMA. We had the amazing riot at Millbank Tory HQ, school and college students marched and there were campus occupations and direct action up and down the country. But even all of this wasn’t enough to win.

The Lib Dems were wounded, the left groups picked up some new members, thousands of us could feel what solidarity means. But still students today face a harder position than ever. The cutters and privatisers are still on the offensive. Continue reading “‘this could be heaven for everyone’”

“we want to inspire other people to take a stand”: interview with a college student activist

Joe Thorne spoke to a student at Leeds City College who has been involved in the protests around education cuts and in the new Really Open Student Union.  The interview is followed by statements from a number of other young people, some of which are featured in this bulletin which you can print off and distribute to support students walking out on Wednesday.


How are the cuts going to affect you?

I’m worrying about my future.  I don’t know if I can stay in college.  This has cancelled out my hope of going to uni.  I’m living with my parents.  They’re both disabled and we’re living off disability allowance.  I don’t know how we’re going to get through the next few years, and bills are going up, especially electricity and gas. Continue reading ““we want to inspire other people to take a stand”: interview with a college student activist”

confidential occupations document – april 2009

The following leaked document had disappeared from the public domain due to the website which it was previously hosted on going down.  It is a briefing for heads of university administrations on dealing with student occupations.  It may assist activists in gaining some idea of the perspective of senior university officials on occupations – although some of the material is more specifically about occupations around Palestinian issue.

Sign at the occupied Middlesex Philosophy Department, 2010

Original introductory note by an ‘Education Not for Sale’ activist

What follows is a briefing published by university administrators concerning student occupations . It outlines some of the tactics used by university authorities to deal with student protest, specifically occupations. It is not clear exactly who wrote the briefing, or who received it, but since it is addressed to members of the Association for Heads of University Administration (AHUA), we can reasonably assume that it has been received by a number of vice chancellors and others in positions of authority around the country. Continue reading “confidential occupations document – april 2009”

hope against hope: a necessary betrayal

Nic Beuret reflects on the deeper meaning of the recent student protests

What has been taken from them to make them so angry? Hope, that’s what. Hope, and the fragile bubble of social aspiration that sustained us through decades of mounting inequality; hope and the belief that if we worked hard and did as we were told and bought the right things, some of us at least would get the good jobs and safe places to live that we’d been promised.

– Laurie Penny, New Statesman

A single image from a day of movement marks out competing visions of hope. A boot through a Millbank window fed the dreams of resistance that many in the Left have been craving since talk of austerity started. The same boot posed a question that plays out in the university occupations that preceded it and have since blossomed in its wake: what is it exactly that we are hoping for? Continue reading “hope against hope: a necessary betrayal”

on violence against the police

by a participant in the Parliament Square demonstrations

The condemnations are as predictable as they are boring.  The public-school educated Sun hacks, who write like some coked up parodies of proletarian semi-literacy, refer to “louts” and “hooligans”.  The Daily Mail complains about someone urinating against Churchill’s statue, and the Telegraph is dismayed that Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were “attacked”.  Probably by a “baying mob”.  Meanwhile, someone in a moustache on The Guardian talks about how, no doubt, this will provide a “distraction” from the “real issues”, whose repetition ad nauseam presumably has some intrinsic value for the solemn liberal contingent.

I can’t even be bothered to look up the precise terms of the condemnation this time.  It’s always the same.  A dash of the royal family, veneration for some long dead racist, shakes of the head from the banal but well intentioned.  Is anyone still listening?  Haven’t we read all this before? Continue reading “on violence against the police”