Students at Edinburgh University are campaigning against huge cuts to the modern languages department. The cuts could see up to £400,000 taken of the departments’ budget over the next two years. This would mean increased class sizes, the removal of certain languages from the syllabus and staff being laid off.
The campaign started with a crisis meeting of 200 students, which organized the demonstration on Monday at the university court demanding all proposed cuts are stopped. Around 200 students rallied, including students who are not part of the languages department.
Campaigners chanted, “When they say cut back, we say fight back”, and “students and workers unite and fight” capturing the determined anger of the crowd.
Simon Lee a Geography student said, “Regardless of what you study, all students should unite to stop any cut backs. On top of that universities should work together and build solidarity between campaigns.”
There was a mood to up the stakes. Susannah Savage who studies French spoke about the campaign. “The campaign has been great so far but we need to do more. More meetings, more demonstrations and if it comes to it an occupation.”
University staff were also at the protest. Terry Wrigley, a UCU officer at the campus, spoke from the platform about the need for unity between students and workers.
Terry said, “It’s a fantastic turnout and the students have moved very quickly. We now need to work out how best to bring together staff and students. Such a united campaign can bring about huge pressure.”
Importantly, a group of students from Strathclyde university, who are also campaigning against cuts, joined the demonstration in solidarity.
Adam Frew, a Strathclyde student urged unity across the two campuses to galvanize students against any and every cut. “The campaign at Strathclyde has been going well so far, but it is now crucial students everywhere prepare for action. The demonstration in Edinburgh was excellent and it was good to see Strathclyde students showing support.”
Students and anti-cuts activists are now preparing their next moves and want the campaign to grow bigger so it can be sustained over the summer break.