London, March for Free Education, Students, University
Photo: Desiree Birinci

Thousands Attend London March for Free Education

Thousands of students marched through the streets of London on 15 November, demanding free education and taxes on the rich.

Several streets were closed as the students marched from Montague Place to Parliament Square. Students called for solidarity from members of the public. They called for students and workers to unite and fight, as they demanded free education, cuts to university rent costs, and grants for all students.

Proclaiming that education should be open to all, students echoed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s message about the protest, claiming that capping university fees at £9,250 per year should be regarded as an ‘insult’.

In the June 8 UK General Election, Jeremy Corbyn had campaigned for an abolition of tuition fees. He promised that under a Labour government, government student grants would be brought back.

london, protest, free education march
Thousands of students marched in the streets of London, demanding free education by taxing the rich.  Source: PA

 

Tuition fees in England were introduced in 1998 at £1,000, raised to £3,000 in 2004, and raised again to £9,000 in 2010. The 201o fee hike resulted in one of the most active and violent demonstrations in 21st century Britain. The protests were led by young people and university students. These students occupied university campuses as well as Conservative party headquarters in London.

Tuition fees in England are the highest in Europe and most students are expected to graduate with more than £50,000 in debt, an amount which would likely take decades to pay back, especially considering the compound interest of 6.1% on student loans.

The march was organised by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, and was supported by the Labour party and socialist movements across the country. The march called for education to be considered a human right and not a privilege.

Students gathered in central London for the protest from universities around the UK, including Aberdeen and Durham.

Many students from the European Union and international students attended the march. As the UK is scheduled to officially leave the European Union in March 2019, the future of EU fees is uncertain. The prospect of EU students being charged an International fee (sometimes double the fee that Home/EU students now pay) remains open.

About Angelos Sofocleous

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Angelos is a blogger, an activist and a student at the University of Durham

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