Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Poor Representation At Fees Protest

For clarification and comment on the matter here is the top-up fees article reproduced in full from page 4 of the newspaper

- Michael Collins

Students took to the steps of Stormont on Monday 19th November demanding an end to variable tuition fees. The introduction of top up fees has increased the cost of a university education to somewhere in the region of £3000 per year, resulting in a massive surge in student debt, discouraging many from pursuing third level education.

Around 150 students protested that education is a right not a privilege to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Most politicians who sit in the assembly chamber have pursued a third level education with the help of government grants. Now it appears they have little problem pulling the ladder up behind them.

Katie Morgan, President of NUS/USI said "Students are demanding urgent and concerted action from their politicians in the assembly. We are outraged by the semi-privatisation of University access."

The demonstration is the first of many in a campaign launched in an attempt to ensure that proper third level education services are provided without students finding themselves in debt up to their eyeballs by the time they leave university.

Buses from Jordanstown, the Arts College, St Mary’s Training College and Magee accounted for the majority in a attendance there. Queen’s however was a different story, only 14 students turned up to represent the University which comprises 24,000 students. Details of the bus were barely even publicized. The emailed student roundup which went out two days before the protest mentioned nothing of the fact that Queen’s Union was organising a bus to the demonstration at Stormont. The Union Executive is supposed to represent the interests of students, so quite frankly it is shameful that our Union has not tried to promote the protest.

Perhaps however, they felt it a battle which cannot be won. Union President John Roger has his doubts about the campaign, "This is not a short-term goal, the devolved assembly has just been set up and their budget is settled until 2009. We need to be more realistic about this". Although affirming that he believes free education is a right that all in our society should have, Mr Roger is not confident the current campaign has been thoroughly thought-out. The leaflet distributed to publicize the protest stated a commitment to ‘abolish top-up fees’ while at the same time retaining the cap – a complete contradiction which calls into question the abilities of the organisers of the campaign.

For Queen’s the issue is highly contentious. The ‘Russell Group’ representing some of the ‘top’ colleges including Queen’s has been lobbying the Labour government to lift the cap on tuition fees. If the cap is lifted students could be charged anything up to £10,000 and beyond per year to attend Queen’s University.


Anonymous University of Ulster till I die :) said...

Only 14 from Queens? Thats pretty disgraceful. They sent a bus from University of Ulster Coleraine too. Even that got a higher turnout.

Its funny how the Queens Union can bitch and whine over the smallest matters of the day, but when it comes to real issues affecting your student body, you fail to represent at all.

One really has to question whether having your DUA, SF, Greens, FF etc parties has any benefit at all.

They don't have political parties at University of Ulster, and they do a damn sight better job of looking after their students.

12/05/2007 4:18 pm  
Anonymous SRC Member said...

Why have the socialists not been attending council meetings this year?

12/06/2007 12:15 am  
Anonymous Donald Gallagher said...

The fact is that any student that would be interested in going to such a protest realises that the Assembly can and will do nothing - one simple question - were is the money going to come from?

And although this is kind of drifting of the point, but after all it is the Gown - doesn't it show the complete inability of NUS-USI to offer any direction for student politics when they have little or no sway among students in their largest uni. Although our own exec aren't blame free either, but I think this highlights the complete failure of this undemocratic student movement - bring on the referendum!

12/06/2007 2:17 am  
Anonymous David Cather said...

They don't have political parties at University of Ulster, and they do a damn sight better job of looking after their students.

Oh sorry I wasn't paying attention, you mean the protests worked and the executive are canceling all student fees?

Oh they didn't right, so you haven't actually achieved anything more for students than anyone else. The days when things can be changed by standing outside with a placard are long gone mate.

12/06/2007 9:50 am  
Anonymous UU till I die :) said...

No, I meant at least the students at UU were well informed about the protest, whereas Queens clearly weren't. Since it seems to be the practice here in the comments column to bash the executive, I'm just adding a few facts to the sorry affair. My point had nothing to do with the protest, just the QUBSU's failure to represent.

12/06/2007 8:53 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More money wasted by the exec.

12/07/2007 4:11 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sure the exec have this sorted!

BIG welcome for top up fees

John Rogers is the University puppet

12/08/2007 6:49 pm  
Anonymous Kevin said...

I think Michael’s article raises some very important points that those who genuinely want to defeat fees should discuss. What is clear is that the student union bureaucracy can not be relied on this issue and what is needed is a democratically run campaign that actually allows students to organise on this issue and challenge the failure of student unions on this issue. It is clear also that the nus are nervous about building a real campaign on this issue given careerist nature of the leaders this is why socialist students(socialist society sister organisation in England and Wales) have launched the campaign to defeat fees. Those who wish to get active on this issue should sign the petition at

12/09/2007 6:05 pm  
Anonymous Raggie said...

Yet more money wasted by the incompetants on the 2nd Floor of the Students' Union?

How many of the 14 were sabbatical officers, with little else to do with their time?

We need a referendum on NUS-USI! John Roger promised it in his manifesto. He needs to deliver on this committment or else he will be exposed one and for all as the pathetic University-controlled puppet that he is.

12/10/2007 9:28 am  
Anonymous UU Tom Morello said...

Ah you know what, I lie. There is a socalist party of some sort at UU. They're always handing out flyers at the Freshers Fayre and then don't poke their head up much after. I don't know what they actually do, I think they just operate as more of a Communism Club where they can get in people to speak about the problem of big business and how it burns little people. Then they all go home and listen to Rage Against the Machine.

You fight the power sister.

However, I prefer that to the mess you lot have in the Union. What a kerfuffle over nothing.

12/10/2007 11:19 pm  
Anonymous Phil A. said...

I have to agree with Raggie about the referendum that John Roger promised us. Afterall we are not only the people who voted for him but who canvassed for him and I will feel very hurt and disappointed if he goes back on his word.

12/11/2007 1:15 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nus usi referendum is needed asap!!! what a waste of student money!!

12/11/2007 5:03 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phil a.,

I didn't vote Roger but I understand your concern about promises unfulfilled.

This is NOT a political issue. NUS-USI offer nothing to the student body. Our Union's membership is very very costly. Vastly more than the £5k being squabbled over in the top post on this blog.

12/11/2007 6:45 pm  

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