Published by Impact Magazine (Online) March 20, 2014.
Students at the University of Nottingham were campaigning to stop the privatisation of student loans on Wednesday 19thMarch.
The protest was part of a national day of action in light of the delivery of George Osborne’s budget to parliament, and marked the second protest to take place at UoN due to the selling of the student loan book.
Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, announced the government’s plans to sell off the student loan book on 27 June 2013. The proposal was confirmed by George Osborne in his Autumn Statement.
“The point is for people to start paying attention, a lot of student’s don’t realise their loans are going to increase …”
Following a week of action at UoN in February, the protesters delivered a petition with 700 + signatures to the Vice Chancellor, under the belief a statement from a Russell Group institution showing their opposition to the privatisation of student loans could make a difference. They have not received a response.
Yesterday’s campaign comprised of a wall of boxes symbolising student debt constructed at the entrance to Trent building courtyard.
“This wall of student debt is your future.”
25 students were present at the protest, including members of the Nottingham Left Society and Nottingham Young Greens, who organised the action.
The group felt that there is a distinct lack of awareness within the student body about the sell off, finding that although they attracted attention from passers-by few students stopped to talk to them about the issue.
“David Cameron screw you, we deserve a future too”.
James, one of the protesters, said that the “point is for people to start paying attention, a lot of student’s don’t realise their loans are going to increase … we want to build a student movement. This wall of student debt is your future.”
Scott Jennings and Duncan Davis, who helped organise the event, told Impact:
“This is a visual stunt to show student debt and our future; debt accumulating and debt sold off. We are keeping on the pressure. Yes the SU policy (is opposed to the sell off) but they haven’t done anything… The other issue is that the student loans contract basically says it can be re-written.”
“Obviously this is a really small and petty protest on day the Chancellor delivers a budget for hardworking people.”
Popular protest chants included: “They say privatise, we say organise” and “Stop the sell off”, as well as “David Cameron screw you, we deserve a future too”.
Sam Armstrong, from Nottingham University Conservative Association, remarked “Obviously this is a really small and petty protest on day the Chancellor delivers a budget for hardworking people.”
Callum McGregor, Communications Officer for Nottingham Young Greens and UoN campaigner against the privatisation of student loans, said:
“This sell off is fundamentally unfair, it will reduce access to education and impact already struggling students and graduates. Young people, as usual, are being sacrificed to guarantee profits for private firms.’’
“The government’s plans to sell off the student loan book to private companies are the latest outrageous attack on students and education.”
Aaron Kiely , NUS Black Students’ Officer and spokesperson for the Student Assembly Against Austerity who are co-ordinating the national day of action, told Impact:
“The government’s plans to sell off the student loan book to private companies are the latest outrageous attack on students and education. The student movement is uniting to step up the campaign, with the aim of building a mass movement on every campus in the UK to stop the government in its tracks.’’
“To ensure the student loan book is profitable for private companies the cap on interest for repayments would need to be increased. This means graduates would face years more of repayments on our loans.’’
Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu