A review on the 4th of November -National Student Demo
We headed to the march, holding handmade placards we had made the night before. The sorta crafty ones you’d imagine art students to make.
This year the government decided to cut the maintenance grant. Not caring at all about the future of education for students who can’t simply afford university costs. After spending a week flyering around my middle-class university, I was one of the only people who attended the demo on the day. This was heartbreaking. A slap on the face of all of the not so privileged fellow students. Sometimes it seems like no one is willing to make a change. If we can’t convince our classmates to raise their voices against this betrayal by government, then how can we effect the people in seats of power.
Cost of living in London are unbearable. We live in one of the world’s most expensive cities. It’s difficult to get fed and have a roof over your head when you’re a lower class student. And it’s not just not having money that’s the problem. It’s also the depression that comes with it. Feeling like you can not afford anything, not being able to eat as well as you’d like or dress as good as you’d like. These all can lead into a lot of negativity on mental health, but it doesn’t seem to be bothering the people in charge.
Personally I am classified as a home student but not British. There was a point in my foundation year that I thought I wasn’t going to receive maintenance grant and had to pay more fees which my family couldn’t afford. Even tho they told me they would try hard and pay my fees so I could continue my higher education , I knew it was impossible for us. Realising I was one of the only people having this problem when it doesn’t even cross the minds of a lot of other students.
Now I have just about enough money to pay for food and rent and maintain a lifestyle I’m happy with and focus on my studies. But what is going to happen to someone else in my shoes next year when they wouldn’t even have the chances I had anymore? How can a lower class/non British student afford to study in this country?
Education gives us a chance in the world, it’s three years of hard work where you learn so much about yourself the world and the subject you’re studying, it helps us to grow in so many ways and I cannot even imagine my life without it.
In some third world countries people are fighting for the right to study, they’re fighting a cultural fight. In such countries they don’t allow women to study because if they are educated they will learn about the discrimination that exists against them and the lack of rights they have. Isn’t this government trying to do a similar thing by raising the fees and cutting the grant? To allow only people who can afford university to get educated and take the opportunity away from those who can’t afford it? How are those who are uneducated to learn about their right being taken away from them?
All this aside the thought of owing a sum up to £47.000 to the government is difficult to deal with when you’re living on a £15 weekly budget. And as an art student you wouldn’t know when in your the future you would be able to have a stable job with which you could pay back your loan.
As a minority student and a woman it’s even more difficult to imagine yourself in as good of a job as a more privileged person in the society, when looking around you non of your pale, male , stale staff at university or even people in the industry represent you. It’s almost as if there’s no place for you in the world and by cutting the maintenance grant the government has officially confirmed that.
Thankfully thousands of people marched down Central London chanting against the cuts. Among them were students and stuff and general public showing they’re disapproval of the current situation. We marched for nearly four hours going past government buildings where they shut their windows as we were nothing but disturbance to them. When we past Victoria we got kettled by the police and some were arrested, even though we were peacefully protesting. The amount of police force attending was so shocking, it seemed absolutely unnecessary. All we wanted to do was to show our disapproval of the cuts, and it seemed like we were doing something wrong. It’s our human right to protest and raise our voice. Some of us had to stop at that point but on my bus back home I saw another big group of students still protesting which warmed my heart. Walking and chanting down the streets of London with over a thousands of other students all wanting the same thing, to make a change, it is truly the most empowering feeling. And it makes you realise yes people do have the power and no matter how many times they stop us or shut down their windows, more and more of us will unite and we will never stop until we get what we want, free education and a fair government .
*17th of November is the international walk out day where All Student Every where are expected to walk out of lectures from 11am – 2PM to show their protest against what us happening to international students and immigrants.
SoN Guest Blogger