Education activists disrupt Universities UK annual conference

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For immediate release: Wednesday 7th September 2011

Education activists disrupt Universities UK annual conference

Today at 3.30pm BST, activists from Royal Holloway Anti-Cuts Alliance (RHACA) disrupted Universities UK’s annual conference at Royal Holloway, University of London.  The conference, attended by Vince Cable MP, is expected to focus on the effects the Government’s HE white paper will have upon universities.  RHACA were protesting against the white paper’s intentions to create a ‘level playing field’ between public university institutions and for-profit providers.

The group, who are affiliated to the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC), the organisation behind last December’s tuition fees protest in Parliament Square, carried a banner with the slogans “Education: Not for $ale” and “HE White paper: Profit at the Heart of the System”.  After chanting, banner drops and being told they weren’t recognized by the organisers, activists were met by an embarrassed RHUL management.  Discussions took place about the absence of students from decision making processes and a lack of consultation over major issues.

“The Government’s white paper is titled ‘Students at the Heart of the System’- garbage; here we have the Government’s education officials and vice-chancellors from across the country making crucial decisions without student involvement,” said one activist.  “Students nationwide have made their voices clear over the past year, but still they will not listen.  We can do without being patronized; ministers would have us believe the white paper is beyond us – we’ve read it, we understand it, and we’re fighting it.”

Another activist said, “The white paper will make way for privatization and a market in higher education; it is an attack on the essence of the public university.  The vice-chancellors here are thoroughly aware of their students’ opinions, yet they have the impertinence to carry out the government’s reforms with impunity.”

“At Royal Holloway we have seen the management strike a deal with the publishing giant, Pearson, so that Royal Holloway can start validating Pearson degrees.  This is the thin end of the wedge and we do not want these for-profit providers in our universities.”

The disruption is indicative of the tone being ahead of the NCAFC’s planned national demonstration on 9th November.  Billed as “Defend Education, Fight Privatisation”, the demonstration’s Facebook event is already expecting thousands in attendance.




Notes for Editors

. RHACA were one of the first groups to occupy their university last November

.One of the activists is an organiser on the National Committee of NCAFC

. Pictures and interviewees available

. Royal Holloway, University of London, has announced tuition fees of £9,000


Name: Craig Gent Tel: 07824 331240

Royal Holloway Anti-Cuts Alliance

Royal Holloway, University of London

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