Radicalism Is in the Air and the Rage is Palpable

Yesterday 50,000 people marched in London against
the proposed Coalition cuts to higher education. In the bright November
sunshine, the atmosphere was largely peaceful and exuberant. As Sally
Hunt, the general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU),
told the crowd, this was the biggest march by students in a generation.

What brought everyone out on to the streets? The
general consensus was anger. The rights afforded by education are not
simply the reserve of the elite, a claim implied by some commentators.
As an excellent film by the UCU showed, colleges such as Goldsmiths,
University of London, where I am studying for a PhD, do more than merely
smooth the progress of middle-class students into the corporate job

The film showed a man who had been released from
prison walking into Goldsmiths' programme of adult learning. The
reoffending rate is three times lower for ex-prisoners who participate
in higher education. Precisely such progressive and imaginative
resources will shortly be slashed.

One of the
speakers at the rally was Angela Maddock, an art lecturer from Swansea
University. She rejected the idea that the arts should be subordinated
to so-called "useful" subjects, and instead argued for a defence of "art
for art's sake". The Government's decision to ringfence science and
technology while cutting the entire teaching budget for the arts and
humanities, points to an alarming ethos.

biggest cheer came when speakers made the connection between the
"eye-watering" price of proposed tuition fees and the banking scandal.
Radicalism is in the air. The rage is palpable.

this drove a small group of protesters, by no means representative of
the whole, to smash their way into the lobby of Millbank Tower and on to
the roof.

Most of the demonstrators I spoke to
did not condone these actions, but were glad that the message of the day
was clear, written in red paint and unfurled from the top of Tory HQ:
Stop The Cuts.

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