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Students plan more protests over tuition fees and cuts, The Guardian, 30 décembre 2010

jeudi 30 décembre 2010, par Wilde, Oscar

Occupation of university buildings and demonstrations planned as vice-chancellors are urged to limit tuition fee increases

Pour lire cet article sur le site du Guardian

Students are preparing to occupy university buildings and hold more protests against increased tuition fees and cuts to higher education early in the new year, it emergedtonight.

They are planning major demonstrations and occupations to convince vice-chancellors not to raise fees to the new maximum of £9,000, and instead to nearer £6,000 a year.

Vice-chancellors must decide by late February how much to charge students who will be starting their degrees in the autumn of next year so that they can print their universities’ prospectuses in time.

The protests and sit-ins, which are likely to cluster around London universities, are expected to gain momentum when the Lords debates the scrapping of the education maintenance allowance (EMA) on 12 January.

The EMA is a weekly allowance of up to £30 designed to help the poorest teenagers stay in education after the age of 16.

Other major protests will take place on 29 January and 19 February. The demonstration in London on 29 January is being organised by the National Campaign Against Cuts and Fees and the Education Activist Network.

Clare Solomon, president of the University of London student union, urged students to "take the action up a notch" with "more vigorous occupations". "I would like to see students directly confront university management in their finance buildings and prevent them from working by occupying their offices," she said.

Some action is thought to be planned in Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield in the new year.

So far at least 50 protests have been held, 30 occupations have been staged and 30 petitions sent to university managers, the National Union of Students said.

However, there has also been a backlash against sit-ins by some student unions, who believe them to be disruptive to lectures. Part of the student union at Royal Holloway, University of London, are said to be against occupations of university buildings.

Aaron Porter, NUS president, said the vote to increase tuition fees from £3,290 to a maximum of £9,000 per year "may have been passed in parliament, but students are keen to use a range of campaign tactics to prevent universities from charging the maximum fees. "We expect to see continued student protests, sit-ins and petitions in the new year," he said.

Solomon said messages of support from trade union leaders had encouraged students to continue their fight : "The university management have the power to influence government and if we apply direct pressure to them they will go back to the government and say that they cannot implement what the government wants them to and that universities are ungovernable while they are being occupied."

Students were "quickly becoming politically conscious" and many now believed they had "some sort of say in the system", Solomon said.