Sunderland students rally in protest against Higher Education Bill

Sunderland students are rallying against university changes by going down to London with Northumbria Students Union.

They will be demonstrating against the new Higher Education Bill that is to be introduced to Parliament.

On November 19, the Student’s Union in Sunderland and Northumbria are going to London for the ‘United for Education’ demonstration with thousands of students expected to attend. Both the National Union of Students and the University and College Union are going to be taking part.

It will be taking place 12 noon, Park Lane, London with author and journalist Owen Jones speaking, as well as representatives of the unions.

Kirsty Paterson, Vice President for Wellbeing and Engagement for NUS University of Sunderland, said: “I will be attending the demonstration in London as it is important for me as a student representative and students to stand up and fight for what they believe in.

“One person standing alone has no impact but with unity and strength in numbers great change can be made. This demonstration is regarding a lot of different student faced issues so should gather a large crowd.”

These changes include removing the cap of £9000 for degree courses, the exact opposite of promises made by the coalition Government. Financial situations are getting tougher for many students as the cost of living is rising. The increase is detailed to be in line with the amount of inflation, which could see students paying £250 more a year.

Sorana Viera, Vice President of Higher Education for the NUS said, “I’ll be marching to defend education as a public good, against a rise in fees and to oppose a Higher Education Bill that seeks to turn our universities into businesses and our students into passive consumers.

“I’m marching to say loud and clear that enough is enough and students will not put up with any further attacks to our education.”

A change, which has led to the demonstration, is the introduction of an award system for universities called the Teaching Excellence Framework. The TEF is controversial due to the fact that the Department of Education has been pushing for inclusion in education but it seen by the Unions as a separation. It includes awarding universities medals based on a variety of data including a student success survey.

Gold, silver or bronze is awarded to the highest universities and could potentially put off prospective students from going to their universities of choice.

Tsvetelina Dobreva, Education Officer for NUS at the University of Sunderland, said: “I think it’s ridiculous and the most symbolic of competition. Are you entering a race or what?”

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