Deputy Editors' Column

Transforming protests: 50 thousand to five thousand in ten years

It’s been six long years since 50,000 students marched to Westminster, enraged at the prospect of £9,000 tuition.  More than half a decade on, students marching down Whitehall has become somewhat of an annual winter tradition. This year, with the threat of uncapped tuition, the scrapping of nursing bursaries and maintenance grants, it seems that enthusiasm for protest is waning.

The NUS estimated that around 15,000 students were in attendance last Saturday (November 19th), however the Metropolitan Police put the numbers at closer to 5,000.

Amongst these crowds were only 29 UEA students – an attendance that came with a phenomenal £1,600 bill for the Union. That fee could easily pay for a term’s accommodation in the Ziggurats.

It’s easy to be angry at how education has been transformed in the last decade.  We no longer receive a total university bill that squeezes in under £10,000 and no longer enter into a job market that guarantees to pay our rent. However, when the vast majority of complaints are about the lack of pennies in students’ pockets, is it really appropriate to be spending union funds on coaches and ten foot banners?

Anger has been a bit of a running theme for the last fortnight. Last time Concrete went to print, we all still believed that Hillary was about to become the first female President of the United States. What a difference a day makes, or 14, in this case.

A lot of us have cried, a lot of us have joked, and a lot of us have found ourselves shouting at our friends. Sophie Bunce’s feature: “Is there anything we can’t laugh at?” (Page 11), examines how we channel our emotions and opinions, and asks whether laughter can be the best medicine in times of crisis and downright disbelief. We at Concrete certainly think so. Enjoy the issue!


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March 2021
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