November 19th saw 29 UEA students attend a ‘United for Education’ demonstration that took place in central London in protest of the government’s plans to reform higher education. Union costs to support this demonstration totalled between £1,500 – £1,600 (approximately £55 per student).
UEA students carried banners that said “Death to the Bourgeoisie” and “Deport Theresa May’.
Various news outlets have predicted the number in attendance at between 15,000-20,000. However, police sources “put the number at less than 5,000.”
Commenting on the wider issues surrounding attendance at the march, SU Campaigns and Democracy Officer Amy Rust said: “looking at the attendance figures from UEA specifically and on the demo overall generally, it would be daft to suggest they were anything other than disappointing. Before exhorting UEA students to attend any more protests, it’s crucial that the NUS leadership learns the lessons to ensure that future events have a clearer message and the maximum impact on the issues being discussed.”
The National Union of Students (NUS) and University and College Union (UCU) organised the demonstration in reaction to what they describe as “an attack’” on education.
The demonstration began at Park Lane at noon and lasted until 4pm. Students and teachers came together to demand the end of the marketisation of higher education, and against racism and xenophobia. Protestors called on the government to scrap the HE Bill completely and write off student debts.
They also called on Theresa May to invest in further and higher education and to demonstrate the NUS’s goals of uniting all students from around the world by showing support for international students.
Commenting on the decision to attend the NUS Demonstration, Chair of the SU Student Officer Committee Jo Swo said: “with the cost of tuition fees and on-campus accommodation on the rise and the Government set to slash the number of international students, the SU was mandated by policy to support students who wanted to protest against these attacks.”
“The costs- which were shared with University College Suffolk SU- also supported other activity like the SU Activist Academy which saw speakers from around the country presenting to UEA students”
By 2026, tuition fees are predicted to reach £12,000 a year, sending many students into higher debt than ever before with the abolition of maintenance grants and NHS bursaries.