Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kanja Sesay elected as NUS Black Students’ Officer on a strong mandate to fight fees and cuts

By Bellavia Ribeiro-Addy, NUS Black Students’ Officer and Co-Convenor of the Free Education Campaign

Students of African, Arab, Asian and Caribbean heritage met at the NUS Black Students’ Conference last weekend to decide our policy and priorities and to elect a new leadership.

Kanja Sesay of Bradford University received a convincing mandate, winning the election for Black Students’ Officer with 72% of the vote.

Standing on a clear promise to lead campaigns against cuts to education, the threat of even higher fees and to demand investment in free education, Kanja has the job of representing 1 million students in what could prove a decisive year for the student movement.

Speaking to the Free Education Campaign Kanja said:

“It is likely that by this time next year the debate on whether to increase tuition fees will be done and dusted. The main parties, Vice Chancellors and big business are all preparing for even higher fees.

This is a critical time for the student movement – we need to be gearing up for the fight of a generation. Unfortunately the NUS leadership is campaigning for a graduate tax that would leave students paying higher tax rates for 20 years. It is unbelievable that the National Union of Students is calling for a tax on students!

I’ve just won my election on the promise that I will defend students. At a moment when we are graduating with record debt which take us decades to pay back – and even longer if you are Black because of pay discrimination - students need a leader who will build the biggest opposition to proposals that students should pay more.

Under my leadership the NUS Black Students’ Campaign will actively campaign for an end to student debt and for free education.”

Kanja, alongside his committee and Joshi Sachdeo (Black Students’ NUS NEC), will take up office from July.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Slashing 10,000 university places - Dashing the hopes of thousands of young people

The new Conservative - Liberal Democrat government slashed the number of university places available this year by 10,000, cutting the higher education budget by £200 million.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), said: "The Government should stop pretending that 'we're all in this together'. Today it dashed the hopes of thousands of people by halving the number of additional student places at universities this year."

She added: "Students and their families must wonder what they have done to be treated so badly by this coalition Government. First the Lib Dems renege on their flagship policy to fight against fees and now the opportunity of a university education is being restricted.

"Our competitor countries are increasing the number of graduates to compete in a high-skill knowledge economy. We are denying thousands a place at university and increasing the burden on our benefits system."

President of Universities UK - the organization representing Vice-Chancellors - Professor Steve Smith warned that these cuts would be hard to maintain the quality of the student experience.

He said: "Universities are already dealing with the impact of over £1 billion of cuts announced by the previous government since last December. A further £200 million of in-year cuts will make the task of meeting student demand this summer, and not compromising on the quality of the student experience, even harder.”