Protest Groups Challenge the Tories’ Mission to Wreck England’s Schools and Universities

As has been apparent for the last two and a half years, ever since the wretched Tory-led coalition government was formed, no area of British life — or more correctly, English life — is safe from the Tory butchers intent on destroying the state for malevolent ideological reasons.

Health, welfare, education — all have come under ferocious attack, as I have been reporting extensively for the last two years. An early target was education, as poorer school pupils had their financial support — the Education Maintenance Allowance — scrapped, and David Willetts, the minister for universities and science, presided over the near-tripling of university fees from £3,290 a year to a maximum of £9,000 a year, and the removal of all government support for arts, humanities and the social sciences.

A new organisation seeks to defend universities from Tory butchers

This week, a new body, the Council for the Defence of British Universities, is being launched. Its 66 founding members include David Attenborough, Alan Bennett, Melvyn Bragg, A.S. Byatt, Richard Dawkins, Michael Frayn and Andrew Motion, and, on its website, the CDBU states, “Britain’s universities are amongst the world’s best. But misguided policies are rapidly undermining them.” Read the rest of this entry »

National Student-Led Demo Against University Fees, Austerity Cuts and the Planned Privatisation of Higher Education, November 9, 2011

It’s hard to believe that it’s just a year since 50,000 students, lecturers, university staff, schoolchildren and concerned citizens marched through central London to protest against the Tory-led coalition government’s plans to triple university tuition fees, to cut all funding to arts, humanities and the social sciences courses, and to cut the Education Maintenance Allowance, which supported schoolchildren on lower incomes, but now the time has come for concerned parties to take to the streets once more to show their opposition to the government’s white paper on higher education reform, which focuses on students as consumers, completely ignores the public value of higher education, and points to a privatised future of greater cost and greater inequality.

In September, nearly 400 academic campaigners, members of professional bodies, and concerned individuals published a hugely important response to the government’s plans, a document entitled, “In Defence of Public Higher Education,” in which they provided nine reasons for defending higher education as it currently stands, including a recognition that “higher education has public as well as private benefits and these public benefits require financial support,” a recognition that “public universities have a social mission and help to ameliorate social inequality,” that “public higher education is part of a generational contract in which an older generation invests in the wellbeing of future generations,” and that “education cannot be treated as a simple consumer good.”

They also concluded, appropriately, that the “commodification of higher education” is  “the secret heart of the white paper,” and that the government “seeks a differently funded sector, one which can provide new outlets for capital that struggles to find suitable opportunities for investment elsewhere” — a conclusion that applies equally to the government’s malignant plans to privatise the NHS. The authors also concluded that the government’s plans are “based on ideology rather than financial necessity, and will make no lasting savings.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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