Socialist Worker

Students lead fight over university cuts

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2180

Kings College students protesting last week against cuts

Kings College students protesting last week against cuts

Universities across Britain are facing devastating cuts – but students and staff are fighting back.

At King’s College in London, university management is planning 10 percent cuts across all departments. This is in addition to the closure of the entire engineering and American studies departments, and cuts in library and technical staff.

Over 80 students protested on Tuesday of last week outside a meeting of the college council – the body forcing through the cuts.

The students managed to get into the room adjoining the meeting where they chanted and held placards to the windows.

When a member of management came to complain that they were disrupting the meeting, one activist replied, “You’re disrupting our education!”

A public meeting later that day brought together students and staff from Kings, Tower Hamlets college, University College London and a representative from the UCU lecturers’ union national executive.

Marike, a student at Kings, told Socialist Worker, “There are lots of new students getting involved all the time.

“We want to link up lecturers, other staff and students who are facing cuts from across London.”

Management is refusing to negotiate with the students or staff that are facing cuts. The UCU estimates that around 400 jobs could go at Kings.

The campaign has heightened the political atmosphere on campus.

The student union is now to hold a referendum on how education should be funded. If the free education side win, the student union will be mandated to campaign over the issue.


At the University of Sussex, 115 jobs are under threat of compulsory redundancies.

As well as lecturers there are also threats of redundancies or cuts in staffing levels in the library, IT services, lab technicians, portering and catering.

The university also wants to cut student union funding, and close the sexual health and drug and alcohol awareness service and the subsidised childcare service.

But the students have sprung into action and, with the support of their lecturers, have launched a campaign.

Around 200 students held a demonstration outside the university senate on Thursday last week.Students presented the vice chancellor with a giant P45.

Syed Bokhari, a student at Sussex, told Socialist Worker, “It’s a disgrace that the university management is forcing through these cuts when the vice-chancellor is getting paid £200,000 a year.

“The first thing that should be cut is management wages, not vital courses and staff.”

The picture is similar across higher education, with dozens more institutions facing cuts and attacks.

It is vital that students and workers in the UCU and unions representing support staff come together and take radical united action to defend education and jobs.

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Tue 1 Dec 2009, 18:34 GMT
Issue No. 2180
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