06 July On Thursday 5th July, over 100 students from New College Nottingham (NCN) protested outside the High Pavement campus against attacks on their education.
Armajit Basi, the principal of the college, is proposing to move students from two other campuses of NCN to High Pavement and then close the other sites. However, there is already a strain on resources and not enough teaching time – a situation which will worsen if these changes go ahead. There is also a proposal to increase the number of hours students will be in college to 9-5 every day. Many students work part-time in the evenings, which they rely on more now that EMA has been cut, so are concerned that this will effect their jobs.
Basi is one of the founders of entrepreneurship4FE, a company which is trying to change the way colleges teach in order to promote ‘entrepreneurial skills’ and has used some of the money from the college to invest in this business.
Many people doing A-levels at NCN don’t want to be entrepreneurs! They feel that Basi is only concerned about making money and furthering his business.
Students have tried to make themselves heard by writing letters to Basi and held meetings with other members of the college management. Their concerns were not listened to so they decided to take strike action with a highly successful picket line.
Basi came out to confront the students at one point and was booed back inside the college after saying “the world has changed, we need to change with it.”
Placards included ‘No Change Needed’ and ‘9-5 how can we make a living’ and chants on the 3 hour long protest were demanding that they were heard and also “give staff a voice” as many lecturers oppose the plans also. Great cheers erupted when some members of staff brought out pizza, flapjacks, tea and coffee for the students and congratulated them on what they had achieved.
I spoke to Andrew Truglia, a student at the college, who said: “We’ve been trying to give our opinions on the changes but have been completely ignored. We’re here to get our voice across and show management that we are here to be listened to because we are an essential part of the college.
“We’re already under the recommended learning time for each subject, so it will be lowered further if more students are brought in. It’s just going to cause our education to be worse. I was gutted about EMA being cut and this just adds insult to injury.”
The students are now getting people to sign a petition against these attacks and hope to give it in at their next meeting with the management. They have said that if they still don’t listen they are prepared to take more action. They will be contacting students from the other campuses with the possibility of holding a joint demonstration.
Youth Fight for Jobs members in Nottingham supported the protest and got lots of signatures on our ‘Bring Back EMA’ petition which we aim to give in to the council in the autumn.
The protest was an example of how young people are willing to fight for their future and can organise successfully to put forward their demands. It should send a message to the NUS that they need to organise a serious campaign against cuts and privatisation to education.( Becci Heagney, taken from the Youth Fight for Jobs website)