We have set up camp outside the main reception. The weather is probably the worse it has been so far in 2012 but students and lecturers braved the rain to erect tents and the many beautiful banners which people have made. We’ve also got support from Brookes SU, the president of the NUS, the university and college union (UCU), and Unison. The BBC and Oxford Mail have been very interested in what we’re doing and have covered the event and took pictures (everyone looking very glamourous in their anoraks!). We now have plenty of shelter and the rain is easing off so please don’t be deterred! We have food and later today (6pm) there will be a samba workshop :-)
We are doing this because of the injustice which is happening to higher education in this country. Nick Clegg himself visited Oxford Brookes during the elections and told us all how committed he was to free education – what a joke that turned out to be! We now see them rising to £9000 a year, with Brookes charging the full price. This is the kind of gutless lying we have grown to expect from our politicians but there are things we can do as students and that is why we are here.
More specifically, Brookes has taken the decision to reduce burasaries available in favour of fee waivers. But fee waivers are not one bit as good as they seem. They mean that some people will pay less – 7500 instead of 9000 – but this advantage will only be felt very gradually long into the future as you pay it off and since most students get their debt written off before they’ve paid it all back the slight reduction in price will make literally no difference (more on this here http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/news/article/come-clean/Bursaries-and-fee-waivers-the-facts/ ). Bursaries are what students really need as it is money NOW when you need it. Education should be available on a meritocratic basis, not just for the wealthy. Universities should be about learning and about student’s experience (we hear so much about this from Brookes….) but in actual fact it is run in a highly top-down way with even lecturers getting next to no say on how things are run and how budgets are allocated. This is not the university we want to see. We want a university that is lively and thriving with people feeling like people, not pound signs, not as a means to an end.
We can change things but not just by wishing them. If you agree with this then please join us. Bring tents, food, warm clothes.. and yourselves.
We have samba at 6 and are hoping to get as many fun activities as possible. If you’d like to hold a workshop, teach, skill-share, hold a reading group, play a gig, or anything really please get in touch! Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and you can also add us as a friendo on facebook.