by Tom Robinson – UCLU Welfare and International Officer

Students and our education are under attack like never before. We have already seen the tripling of tuition fees in 2010, a measure that barred many potential students from coming to university. Meanwhile, our education has been steadily marketised, with our institutions run like businesses aiming to generate profit.

Now the government intends to entirely scrap maintenance grants, replacing them with loans. This will mean that students from the poorest backgrounds take on yet more debt in order to access an education – if they even start at university in the first place. We know that many students who relied on maintenance grants in order to make it through their degree simply would not have been able to come if they had been forced to take on thousands of pounds more of debt instead.

Demo 4 Nov

We know that the system was not fit for purpose in the first place. Any system for allowing access to grants which is based on means testing will mean that some students do not receive that they need. It is difficult to legally prove estrangement from your parents, which means that many LGBTQ students who do not receive financial support from ‘phobic parents are unable to claim the amount of grant that they require. We can’t argue that we should keep the current system: we need to demand a radical change, with living maintenance grants for everyone.

We cannot and will not sit quietly as the government destroys the final chance for anyone other than the vastly rich to go to university. All around the country, students are mobilising. Students organised a series of protests and occupations of MPs’ offices in mid-September, demanding that they oppose government plans to scrap maintenance grants.

On October 14, students will be demonstrating at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to demand #GrantsNotDebt, and on November 4, students from all over the UK will converge on central London to march in our thousands to demand free education and living grants for all – no barriers, no borders, and no business.

  • Also don’t miss our UCL activist meeting on Monday evening to find out more about how to get involved on campus! ‘WTF is Going on?: The fight for free education’ – full details here.
  • And, the next meeting of our ‘UCL, Cut the Rent‘ campaign on Wednesday. Details here.

Fighting for Liberation Officers – the UCLU General Assembly 20th January

On January 20 we will be back in Logan Hall debating what Sabbatical Officer roles should represent you next year.

Members of UCL Defend Education have put forward Proposal 5, which proposes four full-time Liberation officers, including a new LGBT+ and Disabled Students’ Officer, whilst maintaining post-graduate, activities and education support. Read the full motion here and the full details for the meeting on our event page here.

This is also an action in opposition to a proposal that would have UCLU reduce its total number of full-time officers to 7, without adding any officers to fight for the rights of liberation groups.

A photo from the last General Assembly, December 2014. Join the January Assembly to help vote for more liberation officers at UCLU!
A photo from the last General Assembly, December 2014. Join the January Assembly to help vote for more liberation officers at UCLU!

All you need to vote is your UCLU ID, so don’t forget it and don’t miss out on having your say! Registration opens earlier at 5.30pm and there are fewer motions, so is expected to be a relatively short assembly.

If it passes, our proposal will add a full-time LGBT+ Officer and a full-time Disabled students’ Officer – a progressive step that will once again put UCLU on the leading edge in terms of representational student unions. It will ensure that UCLU continues to operate as representative, campaigning and inherently political organisations that can improve conditions for students at UCL.

At at time when Disabled Students' Allowance is being cut, it is more important to have a full-time Disable Students' Officer now than ever!
At at time when Disabled Students’ Allowance is being cut, it is more important to have a full-time Disable Students’ Officer now than ever!

Having four Sabbatical Officers that work specifically on liberation issues is the next logical step in the policy of liberation that was initiated at UCLU by the creation of the full-time Women’s officer and BME students officer two years ago. With four liberaion sabbs UCLU can meet the needs of its members students in a more comprehensive way than before, and provide a role model for union around the country

This proposal is backed by UCLU Unicef Society, Fossil Free UCL, UCLU Green Party Society, UCLU Vegetarian Society and UCLU Socialist Society. If you wish to offer your societies support for this motion please let us know.

This General Assembly will also be voting on a resolution to strengthen UCLU’s stance against UCL’s rent hikes – so that’s yet another reason to join the assembly!