By Becky Day

A national demonstration is to go ahead on 21 November, the National Union of Students has announced. This will be the first student demonstration since the anti-tuition fee protests in 2010.

The demonstration was voted for at the NUS National Conference in April 2012, where President, Liam Burns, was re-elected for a second year in office.

Burns states: “[Students have] got a lot to be angry about. You’ve had your education system systematically attacked by the coalition. And even when you get to the other end, what have you got to look forward to?”

UWE student and mental health campaigner, Tom Renhard, was elected as a delegate to attend the NUS Conference. He tells Western Eye: “I think the best way for the NUS to continue supporting students affected by the education cuts is by holding a National Demonstration. It states to the Government that we will not allow for our education system to be torn apart.

“Students are paying more than ever before for tuition and living expenses, potentially having a negative impact on their wellbeing. We are not the ones responsible for the current economic climate, yet we as students seem to be bearing the brunt of the government’s austerity measures that are clearly failing.”

Students will be taking to the streets of London to demonstrate outside Parliament against the bleak future that students are facing. Not only has the rise in tuition fees resulted in 15,000 fewer applications nationwide, but the rise in youth unemployment and pension cuts – paying more, working longer and getting less – leaves post-university life looking less promising than ever before. Living costs have also sky-rocketed, resulting in students having to find part-time work on top of their studies.  The Intergenerational Foundation’s report reveals that the prospects of younger people have “nose-dived” since the start of the 2008 financial crisis. Burns states: “In a year in which there are no votes in parliament and no legislation coming before politicians, it’s about time we started setting the agenda.”

The title of the demonstration – ‘#Demo2012: Educate, Employ, Empower’ – was announced to a room of student leaders at the NUS ‘Lead and Change’ training course in Bristol at the end of July.  The three words highlight the NUS’ desire for an ‘inclusive education, job opportunities and the start of activism.’ The slogan has received mixed views, with one person commenting on the announcement page: “It doesn’t refer to anything that is happening to students or potential students at the present time.”

The aim of ‘Demo 2012′ is to increase pressure on the government and to demand politicians to put students on the agenda for the next general election in 2015.

Supporting the announcement is left-wing student campaign group, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, who will be co-ordinating walkouts on the day of the demonstration amongst school and college students. “Cuts to EMA and the introduction of loans for adults means the fundamental paths to learning are becoming off-limits,” says Michael Chessum – the campaign’s co-founder. “We want a free education system, funded by taxation of the rich.”

The demonstration has also acquired the support of other unions, including the UCU – University and College Union. General Secretary, Sally Hunt, states: “The government are cutting university and college places, making it more expensive to study. Ministers need to harness further and higher education to provide young people with opportunities and a future.”

After being mandated at the 2010 Annual General Meeting to support students in national demonstrations, UWE Students’ Union have responded to the NUS’ call to mobilise students in attending ‘Demo 2012’. Discussions are currently being had amongst UWESU’s Executive Committee and other working groups at UWE about how they can engage with and encourage students to fight for a more positive future and to resist the Tory-led coalition’s attacks on students.

“The National Demo is a chance for us to take the fight on cuts to the government, rather than waiting for them to impose more injustice on the student body,” states Olly Reid, UWESU’s Education Vice President. “Prevention is better than cure and now is the perfect time for UWESU to support NUS and our student activists in pushing the agenda.”

To keep up to date with UWESU’s movements visit: ww.uwesu.org/news/articles/uwesu/NUS-calls-national-demonstration/

Join the ‘UWESU Official National Demo Page’ on Facebook and keep a look-out for tickets that will soon be on sale to attend the demonstration.

Image courtesy of churchofpunk