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The demonstration is aimed primarily at protesting a series of devastating cuts to Foundation courses at UAL, but is also themed around a broader fight for free and democratic education. The march will demand that the cuts are cancelled, as well as £500,000 cuts to Widening Participation outreach and a range of measures to democratise the University. UAL has also been the scene of a student occupation at its Central Saint Martins campus since Thursday.
The planned cuts at UAL would cut up to 800 student places on Foundation courses, jeopardising dozens of jobs. Most UAL students go through a Foundation programme, and Foundation courses are an especially vital route into higher education for those without formal qualifications. Many of the staff affected did not find out about the plans until an email was put from the Deputy Vice Chancellor, responding to the occupation. The process of determining the scale of the redundancies will be determined at a meeting on Tuesday.
Activists from across London and further afield have linked up to call the demonstration – from campuses including LSE, UAL, UCL, SOAS, KCL, Bristol, Goldsmiths, Queen Mary, Sheffield, Birmingham and Oxford – came together to call the demo on Sunday afternoon.
LSE has been in occupation since Tuesday 17th March, demanding democratisation and change to the current education system. Natalie Fiennes, 23, from the LSE Occupation, said: “We demand an education that is liberating – which does not have a price tag. We want a university run by students, lecturers and workers. Occupy LSE stand in solidarity with UAL and will march on Wednesday. These changes to higher education are emblematic of the sorts of concerns that are being raised in occupations around the Europe and the globe, from Amsterdam, Macedonia and UAL. This surge in direct action shows that there is a profound frustration with the way that business model is being imposed on education.”
Shelly Asquith, President of University of the Arts London Students’ Union, said: “UAL management has no mandate for pushing through these cuts. They have continually undermined education in favour of profit-making and have shown contempt for engaging with the student body in any meaningful way. It’s clear that this government couldn’t care less about the arts – I would expect better from our own University”.