Defend Education UEA, who previously organised the Red Boxes Protest, are organising a march from UEA Campus into the city to the offices of Norwich South MP Simon Wright in support of Free Education. The march, which is set to include members of local campaign groups and trade unions alongside students and activists, will start at noon on the 31st of January, and culminate with speeches from “speakers from across Norwich”.
On the Facebook page for the event, Defend Education list their demands of the government, which include scrapping tuition fees, reversing cuts and planned cuts to the National Scholarship Programme and Disabled Students Allowance respectively, change the system of loans and grants so students have enough to cover the cost of living, and protect international students with the abolition of NHS charges, relaxation of visa restrictions, the end of restrictions on migration, and a guarantee of free education for internationals as well as UK citizens.
Union of UEA Students Campaigns and Democracy Officer Chris Jarvis told Concrete that the march was “part of a national day of action for free education. Defend Education UEA are taking part in this alongside other groups in cities across the country, to build a mass, nationwide campaign for free, fair and funded education”.
Jarvis does not expect the march will change government policy overnight, but says that “by building a campaign here in Norwich, we can build a movement that will eventually be too big and too broad to be ignored”.
The march follows on from several other actions and protests at UEA, as well as a vote by Union Council last year to support free education.