The national demo is called ‘#demo2012: Educate, Employ, Empower’. It will take place on Wednesday 21 November, and will involve a march through central London.
The current government has put the future of an entire generation at risk. Jobs are hard to come by, students are saddled with unprecedented levels of debt, it’s a struggle to get onto the property ladder, and state pensions are being phased out – it’s easy to feel despondent.
But NUS members have decided to take action. At our National Conference in April, delegates voted to hold a national demonstration in the first term of 2012. We need your help to show the government how angry we are at their betrayals and broken promises.
We’re doing everything we can to make sure that #demo2012 is as effective and peaceful as possible. We’re negotiating the route, carrying out risk assessments, and working to set a tone which shows how passionately we feel without jeopardising anyone’s safety.
We all have a responsibility to make sure that our actions don’t alienate any supporters. But we should also remember that the right to protest is a part of our democracy, and we shouldn’t be afraid to use it.
What’s the demo about?
This demonstration is about three things:
Education is a good thing in and of itself – it enriches the lives of individuals and communities.
But for most, education serves a simple purpose: to create opportunity. The government has placed this under attack from all fronts – by scrapping the EMA, slashing undergraduate teaching funding, increasing tuition fees, introducing draconian restrictions on international students, cutting funding for post-graduate students, hiking fees for adult learners looking to gain basic skills, causing funding chaos in the nations…
It is clear that we can wait no longer. We demand a properly funded tertiary education system, accessible to all, in which all students are properly supported and encouraged – so that anyone with the ability and aspiration to study has the opportunity to do so.
Month after month, we’ve seen youth unemployment rise – it has now reached over 1 million in the UK – and it threatens to cause permanent scars to our economy and society.
We do not need degrading, exploitative and humiliating workfare schemes – we need fair work and fair pay; sustainable jobs are a necessary building block for a sustainable future and a just society.
Politicians have a lot to answer for. Many of them lied to our faces about how they would vote on tuition fees, and at the next general election we must do our best to make sure that those who claimed to represent us can’t betray us again.
But we can’t just sit back and wait for the next election. A new generation of activists was created two years ago, many of whom are now leading our students’ unions, and it is our responsibility to channel their creative energy, passion and commitment.
Politicians have let education and employment slip off the agenda, but now we have an opportunity to create a movement that empowers us to take back our future.
We need to work together with our teachers, our families, our friends, our communities and other students to build formidable alliances for change.
The student movement was built on the value of democracy, equality and collectivism. It’s time for us to build on those values by standing together on the streets on London.