Manchester students have now booked seven coaches to the national demonstration in London tomorrow.
Jamie from Manchester reports on the protest:
“Some 600 hundred of us marched from the university into the centre of Manchester. We gathered at Piccadilly Gardens and were joined by trade unionists. After a rally we marched to the town hall and then back to the university for a mass meeting.
“We have been using the occupation and march today to build for tomorrow’s national protest. Our call for workers to sponsor a student has worked brilliantly—loads of trade unionists came through for students.
“The occupation is going strong—we’ve been in for two weeks, using it as a base to organise and build the movement against fees and education cuts, making leaflets, holding alternative lectures and making banners.
“When we get back we are going to be holding a mass meeting to discuss where next for the movement in Manchester.”
A group of 144 students and workers from Exeter College and Exeter University have occupied a lecture theatre in the Peter Chalk Centre on Exeter University Campus.
The occupation took place after a march and rally in Bedford Square.
The occupation has drawn up demands including the call for a full, independent re-assessment of the spending cuts to education as well as a public statement from Exeter University vice chancellor and president of Universities UK, Steve Smith, affirming that he does not represent the views of staff and students at Exeter University.
David, a 24 year-old student at the university said, “this occupation is of huge symbolic importance at a time when education is under attack and it is Exeter’s VC who’s leading the charge.”
Exeter students have been sending messages of support to all involved across the UK in opposing the planned education cuts, ahead of tomorrow’s crucial parliamentary vote.
Just over 100 students are in the occupation at Glasgow University.
One student told Socialist Worker: “We had to initially fight to get into the university but now we have won freedom of access and any students are being allowed to join. We are busy debating what next.”
Students marched in Blackburn this morning over education cuts and fees. More than 80 Blackburn College students took part in the town centre protest, armed with megaphones and placards and chanting “no if, no buts, no education cuts” and “education for the masses, not just for the higher classes”.
They walked out of lessons at 11am and were joined by members of the UCU lecturers union outside Blackburn Town Hall. Protestors them marched to Blackburn MP Jack Straw’s office to demand that he opposes the fee hike tomorrow. Straw has pledged to vote against.
Michael East, president of Blackburn Student Union, said: “The protest went really well—passers by were very, very supportive and the students and the UCU were unified.”
Over 150 students from University College Falmouth, University of Exeter, Falmouth Marine School and Falmouth School protested in Falmouth today.
Jake Woodier, an 18-year-old student at Falmouth Marine School, said, “This is our society and no matter what the cabinet full of millionaires says we won’t stop until we win.”
Chants of “When they say cut back we say fight back,” and “no ifs, no buts, no public sector cuts” rang out.
Around 100 students from the University of East London (UEL) have gone into occupation following a general assembly at lunchtime.
Rhys, a students at UEL, told Socialist Worker, ‘We are occupying the corridor outside the vice chancellor’s office – the police have been called but we are sitting down and staying put.’
Students at the University of Bath are occupying the area outside the vice chancellor’s suite in the 4 West building. Students are determined to remain until the vote is declared in parliament.
Students occupying University College London (UCL) are determined to fight eviction.
‘We have been in occupation for 14 days today,’ Matt, one of the occupying students, told Socialist Worker. ‘We are preparing for the mass day of action tomorrow – making banners, placards and getting students involved. We aren’t worried about going to court this afternoon – we doubt they will send in the bailiff’s to drag us off and we are determined to remain in occupation as long as possible.’
Over 100 students at Glasgow University have occupied the Theatre Building which is facing closure due to cuts
Students at the Royal College of Art and Birkbeck college in London have occupied.
Students at Exeter university have taken over the largest lecture theatre on campus.
Meanwhile, students in Leeds are marching down the Headrow in the city centre and more are gathering for a protest in Liverpool.
College management at Islington Sixth Form College in north London have closed the college today to pre-empt a student occupation.
One student at the college told Socialist Worker, ‘We wanted to occupy to bring attention to the fight against fee rises – but college management wanted to stop us so they closed the college.
‘It’s made people more determined to march tomorrow.’
Students plan to picket their college tomorrow to try and get as many people to join protests against fee rises as possible.
More than 200 students and lecturers marched to the Clock Tower in Leicester city centre at lunchtime today for a rally. Most were from De Montfort University, but there were also people from Leicester university and local FE colleges.
They chanted, “Education for the masses, not just for the ruling classes”, “Education is a right not a privilege”, “Nick Clegg is a right lying bastard” and “What do we want? Free education! How do we get it? Occupation!”
So while no students in Leicester have yet occupied, the idea seems to gaining support.
Speakers at the rally included representatives from the students’ union, UCU lecturers’ union at De Montfort and Leicester Against the Cuts.
Many at the rally then went to protest outside Vodafone.
A group of students at the New Vic sixth form college in Plaistow, east London, are leafleting fellow students for a walkout and protest through east London at 1pm.
Rian, one of the organisers, told Socialist Worker. “We have had a fantastic response and expect a good turn out of students. People are furious about losing EMA and the rise in university fees. We are going to march to Newham College in Stratford and others to call them out and then we plan to march to Stratford town hall to protest against the cuts.”
Some 400 people marched to the Scottish Parliament. The protest was organised by Edinburgh University Students’ Association. Nick Clegg pledges were plastered over the parliament. MSPs from the Greens, Labour and a Lib Dem spoke about opposing cuts. Students from across Scotland will be coming to the parliament again tomorrow for an NUS/UCU rally when the fees vote is announced.
Leeds students have won the right to remain in occupation, despite the university management getting a court order to have them evicted. Students had intended to defy the order but the university has backed down saying they would not have the students removed from the building.
The occupation started on 24 November—Day X—when students across the country marched in their tens of thousands against tuition fees hikes and cuts to the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).
Rhys from the University of East London told Socialist Worker that students are leafleting and announcing their general student assembly taking place at 1pm. Newham council workers and lecturers under threat of redundancies and cuts have been invited to speak and Labour MP Stephen Timms is coming to speak.
The Communication Workers Union is supporting the student day of protest tomorrow (Thursday) against raising tuition fees to £9,000 a year.
CWU senior deputy general secretary Tony Kearns will be speaking at the protest, at noon at the University of London Union (ULU), Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HY.
Tony Kearns said, ‘We fully support students and stand side by side with them in this pivotal protest. Tuition fees is a broken promise on an enormous scale.
‘This government seems intent on breaking the social fabric of this country, taking services away from those who have the least, and all done to pay for the greed of bankers who are the real architects of this economic mess.
‘We’re fighting against the government’s plans to break up and privatise the Royal Mail which we believe will bring poorer services, higher prices and post office closures.
‘It’s important that we stand together with others whose services and rights are being attacked for what we believe is right and make the government realise its cuts are unpopular are not going to go unchallenged.’
Strikes at 68 universities
Agency workers would be paid more
A racist Tory bill
Many people are already missing bill payments