Southampton Students Against Cuts will hold a protest on campus tomorrow as debate gets underway in Parliament regarding the future of Higher Education. Across the country, walk outs, occupations, sit-ins and other protest are scheduled as student resistance to the unpopular plans gains momentum.
The protest in Southampton will begin with a rally on the concourse at 12 noon. Speakers from various trade unions will address the crowd, along with representatives from the student organisers. The protest will end with a march around campus.
Students from local schools and colleges are expected to attend, with some participating in walk-outs from their own institutions. Currently over 200 students are expected to attend.
The protest will call on University management to speak out against the cuts and potential rise in fees. So far Vice Chancellor Don Nutbeam has stated that he ‘welcomes’ the proposals in the Browne Review. The Russell Group, which Southampton is a part of, actively campaigned for the cap on tuition fees to be removed.
They will also be calling on the University to protect jobs and prevent course closures as the cuts take effect. The University has already seen many admin staff depart through a voluntary severance scheme which began in Spring this year.
The protest is not supported by SUSU, who expressed concern over the political affiliations of the organisers and the potential speakers. Organisers said they were ‘disappointed’ that SUSU had declined to back their campaign.
However, SUSU have been actively lobbying MPs. In particular they have focused on Cabinet Minister and Lid-Dem MP for Eastleigh, Chris Huhne, who has confirmed in conversation with SUSU that he intends to break his pre-election pledge to vote against a rise in fees.
Across the country various other protests are planned as part of a nationwide day of action. At Sussex University a five day occupation ended on Friday. Organisers called it a statement to the coalition government. Currently students at UWE in Bristol are occupying an area of the campus cafe, and students from Royal Holloway have occupied an area outside the University’s picture gallery, demanding that management speak out against the cuts.
Many other universities across the country have marches, sit-ins, walk-outs or occupations planned, with a demonstration in London set to converge in Trafalgar Square at 12 noon.