Solidarity with the Students Demonstrating Today #demo2012

Today thousands of students will demonstrate in London, protesting against not only the trebling of tuition fees but also the unemployment crisis and lack of opportunities for young people. They will demand investment in and commitment to education, employment and opportunities. This demonstration has been called by NUS and is entitled ‘Demo2012’, with the slogan ‘Educate, Employ, Empower.’

We would like to express our solidarity with this demonstration and its aims. We stand with students in criticising the government’s trebling of tuition fees, their attempt to create a marketised Higher Education which does not nurture the minds of students, their cuts to essential funds such as EMA and their lack of investment in jobs and opportunities.

Amnesty for London Met International Students

This morning the following letter was sent to the warden at Goldsmiths, signed by the President and Secretary of the branch, calling for a public statement supporting amnesty for London Metropolitan University’s international students – up to 2600 of whom have been threatened with deportation. The letter also calls for details of what senior management is doing to lobby against rules that are unfair and potentially disastrous to the future of UK universities.

The TUC has today passed an emergency motion from UCU expressing their support of amnesty for these students. More information and the text of the motion can be found at http://bit.ly/Pbn5K6.

Letter to the Warden:
Dear Pat Loughrey,

We’re writing to you in relation to the UKBA’s recent decision to revoke London Metropolitan University’s ‘Highly Trusted Status’ and to remove up to 2600 international students should they not find suitable places elsewhere in the UK.

We are asking you to support the call for an amnesty in order to allow these students to complete their programmes of study. They should not be blamed for problems that are not their responsibility.

The decision to revoke London Met’s licence is a disaster not just for the students and the university but for UK higher education as a whole as it gives entirely the wrong signal to prospective students that UK is not an attractive destination for non-EU residents. As London Met argued in the public statement that accompanied its decision to appeal against the revocation, ‘London Met is concerned that the current immigration policy is creating confusion across universities in the country and irrevocable damage to the UK’s globally-recognised education sector.’

Indeed, it seems that criticism of the points based regime, on which the UKBA’s decision was based, seems to be gathering pace. You will be aware that UCU has long-standing criticisms of the fundamentally discriminatory nature of the rules while the recent Public Affairs Committee report on PBIS condemned both the costs and the inconsistencies associated with the rules: ‘Little regard has been given to the regulatory burden and costs of constant change and unnecessary complexity on the education institution.’

As the warden of an important higher education institution, we are asking you, on behalf of the Goldsmiths community, to make a public statement in support of an amnesty for international students at London Met.

Additionally, we would be grateful for details of what senior management is doing to lobby against rules that are unfair and potentially disastrous to the future of UK universities. We urge you to add your voice to the growing opposition to the points-based rules and would welcome any discussions about how we can work together to protect both the rights of international students and the needs of the University itself.

With best wishes,

John Wadsworth – president
Des Freedman – secretary

Goldsmiths UCU Meeting June 26th 1pm RHB 137

Our next General Meeting will take place on June 26th at 1pm, RHB 137. At this meeting there will be a report on the resumption of the USS dispute, which was voted for at UCU’s national congress last week. There will also be a report from Tom Henri, who was our delegate at congress this year.

We are pleased to report that Goldsmiths UCU’s amendment to motion HE8, asking UCU to oppose the National Student Survey and to urge members not to comply with the NSS, was passed overwhelmingly. A full rundown of congress is available at http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=5860.

The meeting will include a speaker on the Quebec student protests, and the government’s draconian responses (there’s a good selection of articles on this at http://bit.ly/JX8w8w), as well as a motion to create ‘Goldsmiths United Against Austerity’ in preparation for the TUC rally in October.

Please see the agenda and text of the motion below.

Agenda:

1. USS dispute is back on
2. Report from Congress (Tom Henri)
3. Speaker from Quebec
4. Goldsmiths United against Austerity (motion)

GOLDSMITHS UNITED AGAINST AUSTERITY

Goldsmiths UCU notes:

1. That the Coalition government has still to implement 80 percent of its cuts programme.

2. That the TUC has called an anti-austerity demonstration on 20 October 2012 that is supported by UCU.
This branch believes:

1. That the Coalition government’s plans are an attack on the welfare state and that they will increase unemployment, squeeze education and inflict the most severe reduction in the living standards of working people since the 1930s. They encourage scapegoating of pensioners, women, black people, disabled people, students, young people, and migrant workers.

2. That the TUC demonstration must become a rallying point for mass resistance to the austerity programme.

3. That a campaign of mass mobilization for the TUC demonstration through the unions, anti-cuts organisations, welfare groups, student unions, political organisations, equality campaigners etc must begin now.

This branch resolves:

1. To circulate material to build for the TUC demonstration.

2. To support the creation of ‘Goldsmiths United against Austerity’ in conjunction with other campus unions to build for the demonstration.

Proposed Des Freedman

Defend Students Protesting 75% Tuition Fee Hike in Quebec

In Quebec, Canada, students have been refusing to attend classes or do assignments for the past month to stop a planned 75% tuition fee increase (for more information, see  http://1625wontpass.ca/). They also held a demonstration in Montreal which drew at least 200,000 people.

Many of the issues they are dealing with, in terms of defending accessible education and opposing marketisation, are very similar to what students, staff and education activists have been dealing with here in the UK. Tuition fees in Quebec are currently lower than in other regions of Canada (where fees are set regionally rather than nationally) – a result of a long and vibrant history of student activism and a legacy that needs to be defended.

At one of the universities (Concordia University in Montreal), management is threatening to fine students participating in the protest for non-completion of assignments. There is a joint staff-student letter opposing this, and they are looking for support from the international academic community. Members are asked to sign the letter (see link below) and forward it on to others.

http://theconcordiasituation.wordpress.com/

Solidarity with Alfie Meadows: Demonstration on Monday March 26

The following text is taken from http://on.fb.me/yWVRLk

We will be holding a Solidarity demonstration outside Kingston Crown Court on the first day of Alfie Meadow’s trial. Supporters include: Tariq Ali, Jody McIntyre (Equality Movement) and Gigi Ibrahim (Egyptian revolutionary and Blogger).

Alfie was amongst thousands of students who came on the demonstration on the day of the tuition fee vote (9th December 2010). Alfie is a Philosophy student at Middlesex University, his university department faced closure (it will be closed by the end of this academic year) and when he protested, he received a life threatening injury. But outrageously Alfie has since been charged with violent disorder and faces a trial on 26th March. The police who carried out attacks on protesters throughout the day and evening are yet to face any charges. This forms part of a pattern of attacks on protest which has seen hundreds of students arrested and scores either charged or sentenced to long terms in prison.

Many workers and trade unionists came down to Whitehall on the evening of 9th December after they had finished work, to stand in solidarity with the protesters being kettled. We are asking for the same display of support for Alfie Meadows as he goes into court on 26th March. We demand an end to political charging and sentencing of protesters. We must defend the right to protest. Drop all charges against Alfie Meadows.

Come along to the demonstration and Sign the Petition here:
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/justice-for-alife-meadows/

Initiated by Defend the Right to Protest Campaign

www.defendtherighttoprotest.org
Email: info@defendtherighttoprotest.org
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Twitter: @righttoprotest