Student protestors march on Palace Green

Durham’s response to the rise of tuition fees manifested itself today in a protest march from the Market Place to Palace Green. The majority of the estimated 300 demonstrators present were sixth form and college students.

A jazz band and bagpiper accompanied the lively proceedings, but the protest remained peaceful throughout.

Placards professed slogans such as, “No funds, No future” and “If I could afford to pay £9,000 I would have got a better placard”.

Many students seemed adamant about their right to university education. from St Cuthbert’s Society said, “I don’t think higher education should be commercialized. It is definitely a right, and as many people as possible should have access to it, regardless of your financial situation”.

A group of Durham University Archaeology postgraduates expressed their concern that a rise in fees would result in a British brain drain, with more students being encouraged to apply to overseas institutions.

Some protestors saw the relatively low turnout of University students as being symptomatic of its high proportion of undergraduates from independent schools.

Asked about the turnout, one of them said: “It’s despicable. This is a reflection on the elitist institution that Durham University is. I am a PhD student undertaking valuable research, but if these fees had been in place when I was applying for my undergrad degree I definitely wouldn’t be here now”.

Some of the younger protestors expressed their concern about the raised fees, but most seemed angrier about the cutting of the Education Maintenance Allowance.

When DSU president Sam Roseveare addressed the crowd, a handful of college students shouted, “Shut up you posh c***!”

Aidan’s second-year student Sam Barker, who organised the protest, accepted the varying opinion among Durham students. “Some people were very enthusiastic, and some people were of the mind: ‘it isn’t going to affect me, so I don’t give a s***’”.

Indeed, a few protesters were holding a banner reading, “We want unlimited fees”.

Sam Roseveare saw the event as an overall success and was vocal in his criticism of the government. “There are so many things that are wrong with the policy. It’s not just the numbers, it just seems to be a policy that has been written by someone who hasn’t spoken to students, and they don’t get what the HE sector is”.

The event was also attended by a small number of teaching staff. Professor Robert Layton, a former lecturer in the Department of Anthropology, had strong views: “To take away support and increase fees is just so short sighted and stupid. You’d think even a Conservative government would understand the concept of investing in the future.”

Steph Bubb, a Modern Languages student from St Aidan’s, also saw the event as a success. She said: “David Cameron can’t ignore a peaceful protest. He has no excuse this time”. Asked whether she believed her presence at the protest would make a difference on the government’s decision regarding the change she said: “Probably not. But at least I’ve made a fuss”.

4 thoughts on “Student protestors march on Palace Green

  • Regarding the protests to rising fees:

    The ‘fees’ are effectively a capped graduate tax, which are only paid if you earn above £15,000 annually. If you want a free education, why not go to a library? If you want a piece of paper that will aid your job prospects, accept that it is fair to give a share of your additional future earnings back to the government.

    One of the worlds most distinguished scientific journals, Nature recently revealed that 40% of the ocean’s plant plankton have died since 1950. They produce half the world’s oxygen and suck up carbon dioxide. In three days the worlds governments are meeting in Cancun to discuss ways to help industrialised and developing nations adapt to the inevitable climate change.

    Which issue is more important to our future? Which one is worth drawing the governments attention to?

    Reply
  • Thought I would comment and say neat theme, did you make it for yourself? It’s really awesome!

    Reply

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