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Education Crisis

AFTER THE HIGHER EDUCATION BILL IS ‘POSTPONED’: WHAT NEXT IN THE STRUGGLE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION?

Education Activist Network Roundtable discussion – After the HE Bill is ‘postponed’: What next in the struggle for Higher Education?

Venue: King’s College London (Strand) WC2R 2LS, Room S-1.27

Date: 21 Feb 2011

Time: 6:30pm

 

Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/#!/events/261268643945344/

Participants include: John McDonnell MP; John Holmwood, author of Manifesto for the Public University; Andrew McGettigan, blogger Critical Education; Jim Wolfreys, author of Universities for Hire; Howard Hotson. Oxford academic; Liam Burns NUS President

As the government has announced that it will not seek to pass the HE Bill (based on last summer’s HE White Paper) through parliament until 2015, the Education Activist Network is holding a roundtable discussion with trade unionists, academics and journalists to discuss the way forward in the fight for Higher Education.

The HE Bill, proposed by Universities Minister David Willetts, faces major opposition from academics and HE/FE students, who marched in their tens of thousands against it.

Cameron, Clegg and Willetts do not want to see a repeat of the mobilizations that took place in November/December 2010. One of the reasons the vote is being ‘indefinitely’ postponed is that the government faces significant resistance – UCU’s continued strike action over pensions, the Campaign for the Public University, the No Confidence Campaign as well as growing opposition to the NHS Bill.

This roundtable discussion will aim o build opposition to the trebling of tuition fees, the debt regime and 100% funding cuts to Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, whilst at the same time form the kind of alliance that have the social and economic power to reverse these devastating neoliberal reforms.

 

In solidarity,

Mark Bergfeld & Jim Wolfreys on behalf of EAN Steering Committee

**END**

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Education Crisis

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FOR EDUCATION

30th JANUARY, 11AM-5PM, LSE

The Quad, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE

The protests, walkouts and occupations of last term were just the first chapter in a much longer struggle for the right to education and against Con Dem austerity. In 2011 as university managements gear up to implement massive fees increases and students and staff are faced with vicious attacks on courses, jobs and our education we will need to go further. The first National Assembly for Education is open to students, staff and all supporters of our movement: let’s get together and discuss the future of education and how we fight for it.

The assembly will include: planning and co-ordinating future actions. Break out sessions for university students * school and college students * education workers. Opening plenary with activist Jody McIntyre, Mohamed Bani (eye witness to Tunisian revolution), and occupiers from round the country.

Called by university occupations, including: King’s College London, LSE, Sheffield, Manchester, UWE and UEL

Supported by Education Activist Network, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, London Student Assembly

PROGRAMME:

10.30 11am – Registration

11am -12noon Opening Session

Short introductions followed by discussion and debate with:

* Jody McIntyre activist
* Ben Beech UCL occupation
* Ruby Hirsch Le Swap school
* Mohamed Bani- eye witness to Tunisian revolution
* Jim Wolfreys UCU NEC, Kings College

12noon-2pm: Break Outs

* Higher Education students * organising the occupation movement * building support for the education strike and shut down of education

* School and College Students * organising at school and college * building a walk out * supporting strike action

* Education workers

* Supporters

2-2.30pm Lunch Break

2.30-4pm Report backs from break outs and discussion of future actions

National Assembly for Education: http://educationassembly.wordpress.com/

Email: nationalassemblyforeducation@gmail.com

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Education Crisis

THE FIGHT FOR EDUCATION

LONDON WIDE PUBLIC MEETING HOSTED BY EDUCATION ACTIVIST NETWORK

THE FIGHT FOR EDUCATION

Tuesday 5th Oct, 7pm, Kings College, The Strand, WC2

·      Striking tube worker

·      Ed Marsh National Union Students

·      Costas Todoulos (eyewitness to Greek revolt)

·      Jim Wolfreys UCU NEC

Map http://www.kcl.ac.uk/about/campuses/strand.html

The cuts proposed by the Con-Dem government amount to a declaration of war on our education. Already 150,000 students have been turned away from university, hundreds of education workers have been cut and departments and courses closed down.

On Monday 11th October the Browne Review of university finance is likely to recommend a dramatic rise in tuition fees and facilitate the entry of private companies and market forces deep into the sector. This will be followed by another Con Dem budget day on 20th October with up to 40% cuts across FE and HE anticipated. Imagine what your university or college would look like with 40% of lecturers and staff gone, arts and humanity courses closed, library and support services stripped away….

We have to resist these plans to wreck our education and the future.

Last year saw students and workers taking successful united action to stop the cuts. The examples of Sussex University, Kings’ College London and Leeds University are only the beginning and show that if we fight we can win. NUS and UCU are already working together to build a joint demonstration on November 10th. This months TUC annual conference also called for coordinated industrial action against the cuts and a national demonstration for next March.

The Education Activist Network will bring together students and workers from across London’s Universities and FE colleges to discuss how we seize the initiative and build a mass movement that can fight for our education and our future.

Speakers include a BBC worker out on strike against the cuts during the Tory Party conference; a student from Athens University involved in the wave of resistance against austerity in Greece plus representatives from the NUS and the UCU. This will be followed by discussion including contributions from campaigns and struggles across London. 

BOOK NOW FOR THE

NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010

http://educationactivistnetwork.wordpress.com/national-conference-31st-october/ 

11am-5pm Sunday 31st October

King’s College London & London School of Economics

Supported by NUS, London Region UCU and others

SPEAKERS INCLUDE:

Alan Whittaker, UCU President; Usman Ali, Shane Chowen & Mark Bergfeld (NUS NEC); Professors Danny Dorling, Costas Lapavitsas, Steven Rose, Alex Callinicos & Alberto Toscano; Labour MP John McDonnell; Romayne Phoenix, Green Party campaigns coordinator; Sean Vernell & Jim Wolfreys (UCU NEC); Vicky Baars (NUS LGBT Officer, women’s place), Kanja Sesay (NUS Black Students Officer); Abdulrahman Alhadithi (FOSIS Head of Campaigns); Strikers, occupiers, trade unionists and student campaigners from key disputes such as Sussex University, Tower Hamlets College and King’s College London; Others including Zita Holbourne (PCS NEC), Ben Sprung (London FBU) & Graham Turner (GFC Economics)

FEATURING:

– Activist-led workshops on how to build strikes, occupations and campaigns
– Radical academics debate cuts, crisis, inequality and the future of education
– Meetings on the Islamophobic clampdown in our universities, the academic boycott for Palestine, and other key questions facing the movement
– A forum on the struggle in Europe with participants from Greece, Austria, Britain and Germany

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Philosophy

MIDDLESEX UNIVERSITY PHILOSOPHY CAMPAIGN – UPDATE 26th MAY 2010

Campaign update Wednesday 26 May 2010 (http://savemdxphil.com/)

1. John Protevi and Todd May have posted a petition calling for an international academic boycott of Middlesex University, http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/academic-boycott-of-middlesex-university.html. Several hundred well-placed people have already signed it, in the space of a few hours. Please spread the word about this, far & wide.

2. The poet Michael Rosen renounced his visiting professor at Middlesex today. He explained that “On account of the action of Middlesex University over the Philosophy Department, I would like to inform Professor Ahmad that I would like to renounce my visiting professorship. I do not wish to be a visiting professor at Middlesex University. Best wishes, Michael Rosen.”

3. This morning, professors Osborne and Hallward were denied managerial permission to attend an emergency meeting of their union, the UCU, scheduled for Friday 28 May. They were also denied permission to attend the UCU annual general meeting scheduled for next Wednesday, and a meeting of the University’s self-constituted Professors Group.

4. Collective pressure to greylist i.e. boycott Middlesex University is growing rapidly. The external examiners for the Middlesex Philosophy department have already announced their refusal to collaborate with next month’s assessment boards, and colleagues in other departments may soon follow suit. A boycott by external examiners will have a significant and immediate impact on the University.

5. Last Friday Middlesex management told the four suspended students that their hearings would take place this Friday 28 May at the Hendon campus. Fiona Fall, who will preside over the hearings, suddenly decided this morning that it would be ‘better for the students’ to hold the meeting at Trent Park instead, since it is their ‘home campus.’ The four students explained that they would nonetheless prefer for the hearing to go ahead at Hendon as originally planned. But Fiona Fall has made up her mind. ‘As my understanding is that a rally of support is being organised at Hendon,’ she told one of the students, ‘I have decided that Trent Park continues to be the best most calm place to hold the hearings for both students and the panel.’

5. Confirmed speakers for the rally at Hendon on Thursday 27 May from 4pm include Alex Callinicos (KCL), Richard George (Campaign for Better Transport; Plane Stupid), Paul Gilroy (LSE), Nina Power (Roehampton), Jim Wolfreys (UCU), among others. Please circulate the rally announcement and flyer (http://savemdxphil.com/) to everyone who might be sympathetic.

The Campaign
26 May 2010.

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STAFF AND STUDENTS RECLAIM KING’S COLLEGE LONDON

Last Tuesday’s (30 March) strike in defence of education at King’s exceeded all expectations. More than 250 people joined loud and vibrant picket lines on all four King’s campuses. Security guards at one campus indicated that numbers entering their building were as much as 75% down. At the main building on the Strand only a small trickle of students and staff went in.

Support for the strike was boosted after the latest hapless intervention by senior management, who refused to allow non-UCU staff to take annual leave yesterday. This prompted more than sixty of those obliged to work on the Strand to sign a card expressing solidarity with the pickets. Members of other unions on all sites brought refreshments out to colleagues on strike and stood with them during breaks. Local cafes displayed UCU material explaining our reasons for striking. Students brought cakes for pickets, played musical instruments, set up stalls and hung a huge banner over the entrance to the Strand: ‘Education massacre: do not enter.’

Messages of support have flooded in from King’s alumni, students and non-UCU staff, as well as from universities and colleges across the country. Colleagues brought solidarity greetings and donations in person from UCL, Westminster, QMW, London Metropolitan University, the Institute of Education, Southwark College, City and Islington College, Tower Hamlets College, the University of the Arts and the London Nautical School. Supporters also came along from local workplaces, including the National Theatre and the National Gallery, and from other unions, including the NUT, PCS, Unite and Unison.

Around 50 people attended a lunchtime rally at Waterloo, while more than 200 students joined pickets for a rally on the Strand, which took place in an electric atmosphere. The huge crowd heard speeches from UCU representatives at King’s and elsewhere, from members of other unions and from a Sussex student who told of their struggles with their own management. Many students heard for the first time of the appalling treatment of our colleagues in Engineering by King’s management. The ‘We Support our Teachers’ campaign was a lively presence throughout the day. Dozens of students expressed their disdain at the way the College’s senior management addresses them in Orwellian ‘Newspeak’. Many have written to the Principal and Vice-Principal complaining that they feel patronised by senior management.

Our campaign in defence of education at King’s is partly about our colleagues’ livelihoods, and about the lack of regard shown to them by senior management. But it is clear that it is also about much more than this. The creeping culture of managerialism in universities is also an issue. The support we have received from students, and from colleagues who are either members of other unions, or not yet members of UCU, is an indication that this campaign is also about defending the values that underpin education at King’s and elsewhere, which include collegiality, respect for individuals, cooperation, intellectual integrity and academic independence.

The verve, humour, creativity and imagination of yesterday’s pickets offered us all a glimpse of the potential that exists within this institution for staff and students to make education at King’s more rewarding and more enjoyable. All too often this potential is either stifled or by-passed by the dead hand of senior management.

Our thanks and congratulations go to all who took part yesterday, and to everyone who showed their support for our campaign. Senior management teams across the country are offering no resistance to government cuts. They are determined to follow the example set by King’s and impose redundancies and department closures on their staff and students. The magnificent collective response to these attacks that we have seen at Leeds, Sussex, Kent and King’s is a powerful reminder to all that if we stand together we can defend our education system from the ministers and managers who want to turn it into a marketplace.

Jim Wolfreys

President KCL UCU

Please continue to send donations and messages of support to: ucu@kcl.ac.uk

For more information on our dispute see: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ucu

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KING’S COLLEGE LONDON, TUESDAY 30 MARCH: CELEBRATE RESISTANCE TO EDUCATION CUTS!

Tuesday 30 March will see the first ever local strike against management by UCU members at King’s College London. We have voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action against a £27m cuts programme that has put 205 jobs at risk of redundancy, with more to follow. 

* Whole departments are set to close – Engineering, Dental Mictobiology, American Studies, Equality and Diversity – with other areas also under threat – Palaeography, Logic, Linguistics, the Institute of Psychiatry, Biomedical and Health Sciences.

* All this in a College where 202 staff earn over £100k a year, with a combined salary bill of £29m, and where a £100k salary cap would save £9m a year.

* Management have by-passed the proper channels of consultation to impose redundancies. Most staff learned that the country’s oldest Engineering department was to close via the College’s website, before any formal consultation had taken place.

All this helps explain why King’s staff returned the highest proportion of votes in our union’s history (85%) for some form of industrial action. But this fight is not about King’s alone. If our management’s redundancies are not stopped, it will give confidence to every management team in higher, further and adult education, who believe that the top-down management model in place at King’s can impose cuts on everyone, everywhere. More seriously, it will convince any future government that education is a soft target as they try to recoup the billions spent on the banking sector.
 
Speaking at King’s four days before the strike Tony Benn told students and staff that, ‘What you’re doing is educating College management in the importance of education.’ At a time when Peter Mandelson is attempting to prevent young people from going to university, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is contemplating cuts that will be ‘worse than Thatcher’, we also need to educate the present government, and its successor, about the importance of education. So our fight is also your fight.
 
We are calling on everyone to join us on our picket lines (7am to 5pm) on Tuesday 30 March. We want our strike to be a lively celebration of resistance to cuts and a demonstration of our resolve to defend our colleagues’ jobs and our students’ education.
 
Join our rallies on Tuesday, open to everyone:
 
Tues 30 March 1pm KCL Strand and Waterloo site entrances
http://www.kcl.ac.uk/about/campuses/strand.html
http://www.kcl.ac.uk/about/campuses/waterloo.html

Tues 30 March 6pm London School of Economics, U8, Tower One, Ground Floor http://www2.lse.ac.uk/mapsAndDirections/findingYourWayAroundLSE.aspx
 
Please send donations and messages of support to: ucu@kcl.ac.uk
 
For more information on our dispute see http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ucu
 
In solidarity,
 
Jim Wolfreys, President KCL UCU 

Justine Stephens, Head of Campaigns, UCU, Carlow Street, London, NW1 7LH

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