Monday, 6 December 2010

A Request

On Thursday the 9th of December 2010 the UK government will be voting on whether they ruin higher education in this country. This is a painful simple truth. The swathe of cuts that are proposed to university teaching budgets, to research budgets, and also to the support of 6th forms and further education colleges, is a terrifyingly direct attack on social mobility, on the belief in a well educated citizenry, and on the importance of thought beyond profit motives. The language of markets is not the language of education, and to confuse the two is to attempt to screw people before they even have a chance to learn how to resist (though, no matter how obfuscating the attempt, people will always learn, always question and react, inside or outside of formal education - the activism of the last few weeks demonstrates the danger of taking any generation's apathy for granted).

This has all been ably documented over the last few weeks:

The inefficiency of the proposals (the clearest indicator of ideological motives).

Even if you sympathise with the cuts in general, it is surely easy to agree that the current proposals have been poorly considered, rushed through debate, and now rushed into voting. The strength of opposition that we've seen in the protest marches, not just in London, but all around the country (here's my gallery from Exeter), as well as the inspirational UCL sit-in, and dozens of other actions (this link is far from comprehensive, but gives a good selection), all indicate that something is very wrong. Hundreds of thousands of people have been compelled to make their protest heard, and many are starting to realise the importance of these discussions beyond the media's continual reduction of events to discontent in the face of the (admittedly ludicrous) fees hike “which won't even affect those protesting” (the idea that attacks on the institutions which shape our teachers, politicians, journalists, doctors, artists, philosophers, scientists, etc., etc., somehow 'won't affect' everyone is beyond me...).

The best way to fight these cuts, this week, is to support whatever protests go on in your area (Exeter University will be rallying and marching on December 8th from 11am), and, perhaps most importantly, contact your MP and ask for a NO vote. Not an abstention, not the decision not to make a decision, but a loud NO, that these cuts are not right, and that they should not go ahead.

I know that people are busy, and I know that sometimes finding the time to even write an email can be something continually put off until it's too late. In the past form letters have been the thing which finally got me to take this basic action, so I've linked to the NUS letter below which quickly and easily allows you to contact your MP. I'd encourage you to please, please do one of the following (the further down the list the better):
  • Put your name and your MP's name into the email and send a copy to your MP.
  • Put your name and your MP's name into the email, add your own paragraph or otherwise edit it, and send it to your MP.
  • Write your own email expressing your particular views and send it to your MP.
  • Do any of the above and ask others to do the same (please pass the NUS page or this page around, or retweet them, or email them to anyone you think might be encouraged by them).

Oh yes, and cross your fingers, the vote this Thursday is important and its outcome will set the tone for how this government believes it is allowed to treat its citizens. There are a great many MPs wavering on this issue, and everyone's voice really can make a difference.

If you can take the time to do this, thank you.


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