STUDENTS DEMAND BRING DOWN THE COALITION – over fees and privatisation

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Student banners show their solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and Revolution is the Solution
Student banners show their solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and Revolution is the Solution

MORE THAN 25,000 students from universities and colleges all over the country marched through London against the Tory-LibDem Coalition government’s attacks on education on Wednesday.

There were scores of banners and placards, including from UCU, Edinburgh College, Keele University, Northumbria Students Against Cuts, Cardiff University Students Union, University of East London, Goldsmiths, Brighton, Portsmouth students union, Cambridge, Leeds Polytechnic, Oxford University students union, City University students union, Ruskin College Oxford, University of Bristol, University of Birmingham and Leeds University.

Lee Wild, a philosophy student at Bristol University told News Line: ‘There have been massive cuts in philosophy because it’s not deemed essential.

‘This government is shying away from the humanities. Everyone is effected by the government education cuts, but the cuts in humanities are among the worst.

‘We have to band together. We have been wronged and if we don’t defeat the government then it will only get worse.

‘The NUS (National Union of Students) leadership is pussyfooting around.

‘More action is essential. Today is a great start. Now let’s unite and all act together to kick this government out.’

Jesse Grym, a history student at Cambridge university said: ‘There’s no foresight in this government’s policies.

‘It’s reacting to emergency and crisis and carrying out policies which are going to have a really harmful affect on generations to come.

‘It’s disgraceful, trying to make money out of students.’

Fellow Cambridge history student, Owen Philips said: ‘This government wants to make education an appendage of the market.

‘It’s a knee-jerk reaction to the economic crisis but it’s also part of a long-term plan to make education a commodity.’

Bethany Shinton, a geography student at Bangor university was carrying a placard saying: ‘I voted LibDem and was screwed over by Nick Clegg. Stop Education Cuts!’

She said: ‘My first ever vote was LibDem and Clegg broke their main manifesto pledge.

‘They focus-grouped and targeted students and loads of students voted for them. Then they betrayed. It’s disgusting. They screwed over the poor.

‘I made the placard last night. The bus left at 3am, so I had a few hours to kill. I don’t need sleep!’

George Holt, a physics student at Lancaster University, carried a placard saying: ‘Boy Girl Revolution! Ban Public Schools! Eton Breeds Hegemonic Masculinity! We Won’t Calm Down Dave!’

He said: ‘I’m fed up with the government cutting things and hurting the poor.

‘They say we’re all in this together, but we’re not. During the recession the rich have only got richer.’

There was a large contingent of 50 students with their banner from London’s Central School of Speech and Drama.

Matt Johnson said: ‘We all made the banner together on Monday evening. We’re all angry at the cuts.’

Central student Annie May said: ‘The education cuts are terrible. The government is doing no good for the next generation.

‘They are cutting the future. I hope there will be a general strike.’

Central student Rose Maltezos said: ‘We’re here because there is basic outrage at this government.

‘We’ve been brought up to think that we can go to university and then suddenly we’re told we have to mortgage our future.

‘Getting to university was always our aim and ambition, and then suddenly it’s all been turned upside-down.’

‘In our thousands, in our millions, We are all Palestinians!’ rang out from the several hundred marchers behind a huge ‘FREE GAZA’ banner.

Carrying a Palestinian flag, James Birch, a creative writing graduate from Essex University, said: ‘I believe Israel is committing war crimes and I’m standing in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

‘I believe the people need to tell the trade unions they must organise a boycott of Israel.

‘They must organise a boycott of Israel, especially businesses operating in the illegal settlements, and stop all trade.

‘They must also bring aid to Palestine.’

Carrying the FREE GAZA banner, Nicholas Ortiz, from University of Essex, said: ‘We have to make people conscious that the Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves.

‘Israel is a terrorist state which is trying to annihilate Palestinians.

‘There is a big movement building up and everyone should follow the example of the SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) students who have occupied their university in support of Gaza.

‘We have to go beyond protest. There has to be direct action.

‘I come from Chile, where the student movement has really built up again.

‘All over the world people are rising up, and they are right to rise up against Israel.’

There was a lively contingent marching behind the Young Socialists Students Society banner, joining in their continuous chants.

These included: ‘We won’t pay tuition fees – Education must be free! Bring back EMA! Defend our lecturers – Defend every job! One state Palestine! No privatisation – Kick this government out! No cuts, no closures – Occupy now! What do we want? Free Education – When do we want it? Now!’

Luke Lloyd, a music student at London Metropolitan University, said: ‘It’s getting bad at London Met, where the cuts are having a very bad affect.

‘It’s my first year, but I can see how bad it’s getting. Lecturers are being asked to take less pay and there are cuts in staff.

‘There is also massive concern about the government’s attack on our international students.

‘We’re a mainly international university and it’s nice that it’s so diverse.

‘There needs to be a change of government. The coalition isn’t working. The promises Clegg made have been broken. They need to come down.’

Pave Ramani, an English student at Kings College, London, said: ‘Just because the government hasn’t listened to us in the past, sudents still have a voice and opinions. The cuts are too great.’

Tom Pee, a 3rd year drama and English literature student at Worcester University, said: ‘I favour a general strike. This government doesn’t care about the future, it just cares about now.

‘Raising fees might bring more money in now, but in the future things will get a lot worse and there will be fewer graduates.’

Tahir Asghar, a maths and finance student at City University, said: ‘Education must be free. This government is suppressing the new generation and giving them a bad image, saying we’re like criminals.

‘They are trying to squeeze out money from the middle class and working class and forcing young teenagers to pay fees.

‘There’s got to be an all-out, indefinite general strike to kick this government out.’

Rita Serghis, an international relations student at Kingston University, said: ‘This government doesn’t know anything about education.

‘None of them have gone through mainstream education.

‘They don’t know what it’s like to go through a school in a worse off area. They don’t know what it’s like on the ground.

‘None of them have been teachers. They’ve all gone to private schools and the top universities. They don’t know what it’s like in the real world.’