Students are unhappy in the wake of the announcement of tuition fee rises at the University of Glasgow. Students from the rest of the UK (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) are set to have to pay £9,250 per year of their degree – driving them into even further debt. The SRC and the QMU have released statements expressing their concerns over the fee rise, and last night representatives from both student bodies spoke at an open meeting hosted by the Glasgow University Labour Club (GULC) to discuss further action. It was decided that a cross-campus campaign will be launched to protest the fee rise.
The event started with short speeches and a Q&A. Vice-Chair of GULC Kirsten Muat chaired the discussion, Kate Powell (VP education) and Mhairi Harris (VP student activities) represented the SRC and Jack Smith (President) represented the QMU. The SRC and the QMU echoed the sentiments of their original statements, while the SRC representatives called attention to the fact that they were only told about the proposal two days before it was approved and there was no chance for student consultation. Also present was Rob Henthorn of NUS Scotland, who was invited because of his knowledge and experience regarding student campaigns and the national importance of the fee rises (as Edinburgh and St. Andrews are in the same situation). Henthorn talked primarily about the national context of the fees and the quality of higher education, including a UK Government proposed “Teaching Excellence Framework” which would allow higher ranked universities to set higher tuition fees. At this point the SRC and QMU representatives had to leave.
Next, the attendees were split into groups to discuss both the facts of the situation (such as why fees are going up and where the money will be going), and what our strategy should be as students. It was agreed that the first step to getting something done would be through the student unions, but we also discussed what we’d do if this proved to be ineffective – a variety of strategies and avenues were considered such as demonstrations or the potential power of our wide range of student publications.
At the end of the meeting a motion was proposed and unanimously agreed on to launch a broad, cross-campus, cross-society campaign to tackle the fee rise. In more immediate terms, we also decided to appoint two attendees – Kirsten Muat of GULC and David Buckley of the Glasgow University Scottish Nationalist Association – to have further discussions with the SRC ahead of the next meeting of the SRC Exec.
[David McGinley – @mcgingly]