Category Archives: Brighton University Stop The Cuts

Professor Bob Brecher on the Neoliberal Onslaught in Higher Education

University of Brighton’s Professor Bob Brecher gives a great analysis and condemnation of the current (neoliberal) state of higher education, available here.

Advertisements

Corporate banks, private businesses, the Senior Management Team, and a hello to new students from Brighton Students Against Cuts!

Hello Everyone!

First, welcome to the many new students who gave us their email addresses at Freshers’ Fair. We’re very glad that you managed to negotiate the casinos, the banks, the army, the police, a host of major corporations, and made your way to our stall. We promise, that’s as bad as it gets at university. Maybe we should do something about it next year?

We have a website, an active facebook group and an active twitter account to keep you up to date with everything cuts related both at University of Brighton and nationally. Last year we occupied the university for two weeks, organised demonstrations in Brighton and travelled to the national demonstrations in London, passed motions at the Students’ Union AGM against the cuts, and had a fun time making loads of new friends. You should expect no less this year. In fact, you should expect a whole lot more.

So, if you’d like to meet lots of nice, politically active students, get involved! And the first thing you should get involved with is coming up real soon:

The Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition has organised a meeting for students and staff “to plan and coordinate a campaign against fees, cuts and privatisation”. This will be happening on Tuesday 11th October, at 6pm, room C218 in the Checkland Building on the Falmer Campus. A map of the Falmer campus can be found here. Brighton Students Against Cuts will be there and we’d love it if you could be too.

There’s going to be more politics on campuses over the next three years then there has been for decades. Together, we can put University of Brighton back into the hands of students and staff and out of the hands of corporate banks, private businesses and the Senior Management Team. We have no idea which of those three we’re most concerned about.

In solidarity,

Brighton Students Against Cuts

Notes from the 19th September meeting

Everyone was very excited about what we could achieve this term: unlike last year we’re not starting the group from scratch, plus the combination of a London demonstration and major industrial action both happening in November should prove a catalyst for the movement across the country.

It was highlighted that the national student movement is not talking about if nonviolent direct action will occur, but when, and this perspective was thoroughly endorsed by Brighton Students Against Cuts. Nationally we should expect a far larger, more coordinated stop the cuts movement than last year, and should work to ensure this happens at our local level.

We pinpointed three areas that needed to be immediately addressed: the Freshers’ Fair, the November 9th demo and the November 30th strike action.

Continue reading

This winter, we take back what is ours

Things are gearing up for a winter of discontent across the country. The spontaneity of last year’s student movement was inspiring, but it came at the cost of the trade unions not being able to organise institutional support quickly enough to supplement the student movement’s dynamism. This year that is certainly not the problem. Unison, Unite, the GMB and other smaller unions will be balloting their members for intended strike action on November 30th. The student movement has been quick to respond, pledging its support for the strike action at an assembly held in London last weekend. Edinburgh University is already in occupation. The twitter feeds of last year’s occupations are buzzing with excitement at the prospect of a combined trade union movement and student movement in solidarity, jointly resisting the government’s privatisation onslaught.

At Brighton, one of the many universities charging the full £9000 a year tuition fees, we will be doing everything we can to support this diverse movement. Taking last year’s successes and supplementing them with the might of Britain’s trade unions, the stage is set for the people of Britain to reclaim the public goods that have been taken from them by an elite corpocracy and put in the hands of private interest.

At last year’s AGM University of Brighton’s Students’ Union passed a motion to actively opposing the Government’s funding cuts to higher education and the University’s decision to charge £9000 a year tuition fees. Given that the Students’ Union has shown no sign of when or how this active opposition is to occur, or indeed no sign that this motion was even passed, we are concerned that our Union may be shirking its democratic responsibilities. Please contact our President, Terry Preston, and ask him what he has planned:

T: 01273 643816
E: bsup@brighton.ac.uk
Location: Students’ Union, G35, Cockcroft Building, Lewes Road, BN2 4GJ.

In solidarity and looking forward to a direct-action filled autumn term,

Brighton Students Against Cuts

AGM Success

We’re very pleased to announce that, during yesterday’s AGM of Brighton Students’ Union, the two motions that were put forward by Brighton Students Against Cuts were passed.  This means that from now on the Students’ Union is committed to:

  1. supporting all future strike action by our lecturers, and
  2. actively opposing the Government’s funding cuts to higher education and the University’s decision to charge £9000 a year tuition fees.

Additionally, motions were passed to: boycott all Israeli goods produced on illegal settlements; to ensure that students aren’t described as ‘consumers’ and have their fundamental rights as students upheld; and to encourage the University to promote widening access to higher education.

Finally, prior to any of these motions coming under discussion students voted not in favour of continuing our affiliation with NUS for the remainder of this academic year.  This means, until the start of next academic year, University of Brighton Students’ Union is an independent entity.

Please spread word of these successes to any mailing lists you have access to.  We’re very proud that this academic year started with University of Brighton’s first ever occupation and ended with tangible and significant victories within our Students’ Union.  Looking to next academic year, with a politicised Students’ Union and the fact that the effects of the Government’s funding cuts will start to be felt by students in their everyday lives, we’re excited to see what can be achieved in the resistance to the marketisation of higher education.

Important meeting

Hi Everyone

This Wednesday’s meeting (23rd) is an important one to attend if at all possible.  University of Brighton University and College Union (UCU) lecturers go on strike on Thursday 24th; concrete plans for the Trades Union Congress (TUC) protest on Saturday 26th need to be laid down; and the aftermath of the Students’ Union elections needs to be discussed.  There is a huge amount going on right now; we need to respond tactically if we’re to have the greatest impact.  Students, lecturers, support staff and interested parties are all welcome.  The more people we have attending, the more effective we can be.

  • UCU lecturers are striking on Thursday 24th March in defense of their USS pension rights and job security (as well as other interlinked reasons).  We need to decide how best to support them.
  • The TUC ‘March for the Alternative’ demonstration on Saturday 26th March in London is set to be the biggest since the Iraq War demonstrations of 2003.  Do we occupy Hyde Park, or Trafalgar Square, or somewhere else, or simply toe the line of the march?
  • For those who don’t know, Tim, Jade and Calum were unsuccessful in their attempt to be elected as sabbatical officers in the Students’ Union.  We can respond to this in a variety of ways; Tim has touched on a few of those ways in a recent blog post.

Add into the mix the local issue of the threat to the Big Lemon from Brighton and Hove City Buses’ most recent form of ‘competition’, and the global issue of the unfolding NATO assault on Libya, and there’s plenty that needs to be discussed.  Please come along to room G7, 10-11 Pavilion Parade, at 18:30 to contribute.

UoB Libraries Ordered to “Aspire” to Make Cuts

I’ve just left a course committee meeting in which the representative from our library broke the news that they are looking at possible cuts to journals after being ordered to “aspire” to make 10% cuts in spending by the head of Information Services.

Lecturers in the committee were dismayed at this news. Journals are a vital resource that ensure both lecturers and students can keep abreast of developments in their academic field. Staff questioned the need for such cuts since it has not been communicated to them by management that the university is facing any kind of budget crisis. The ‘aspirational’ nature of the order suggests that Information Services, and possibly other departments, are being asked to make cuts purely for their own sake regardless of their impact.

Cuts to journals could have far-reaching implications beyond the loss of useful resources. The new funding model being brought into universities places significant emphasis on the amount and ‘quality’ (read: profitability) of research put out by each institution. This is part of the wider effort to convert the academy into a factory whose output must above all else support the demands of capital. Without access to the full breadth of current research and debate through the journals, our lecturers and research students will struggle to meet the assessment criteria for ‘relevance’ and ‘impact’ being laid down by the funding bodies, creating a vicious circle of poor funding and limited research that will impact the reputation and academic rigour of our university.

The libraries representative stressed that no cuts have actually been decided at this stage. They have simply been asked to plan for them – a deceitful sleight-of-hand that could see cuts forced on the basis that speculatively planning for them ‘just in case’ has ‘proven’ there are possible ‘savings’ (i.e. cuts) to be made. The planning has been complicated by the fact that publishers often tie the libraries into long-term contracts which would cost more to cancel than continue (the famous aircraft carrier scenario, as one lecturer put it), and also tend to bundle several publications together in one contract, so that unpopular journals cannot be dispensed with to save money without losing the more important ones in the same bundle.

George Osborne’s 3.5% increase in VAT is also hitting the library budget. Printed matter is not subject to VAT, but the electronic versions of journals are VAT rateable and this leaves libraries in a double-bind – they hadn’t budgeted for the extra expense, but they can’t avoid it because of the way publishers bundle e-journals together with the print subscriptions or as filler for the bundles.

Other possibilities being mooted to meet the savings target – which amounts to a around £4,000 – include buying in fewer copies of existing books, meaning more will be put on desk loan and 7-day loans and it will be an even worse struggle than it already is to obtain certain key titles; not duplicating titles between libraries, meaning even more inter-library loans; or simply buying fewer new titles. None of these scenarios are acceptable.

Questioned are being sent via the hierarchy at present but in the meantime we must begin to think about how to apply pressure on the University management and fight this assault on the quality of our education.

Focus on UCU Strike Action

At last night’s meeting it was decided that our primary focus over the next month would be on raising support for and awareness of UCU strike action. We will be doing weekly stalls across campuses with this aim in mind. UCU members are also organising stalls and a teach-in explaining strikes and unions. We also agreed that we need to be going into as many lectures as possible to explain the issue. We are awaiting a timetable of various lectures but in the meantime please take it upon yourselves to speak at any you attend/find.

Stalls:

Please help out at stalls. The more the merrier. Also, if you can think of ways to make them more fun/eye-catching then that would be great (performances, posters, etc.).

Moulsecoomb – Monday 12-2pm – contact Nyika at nyikasuttie@hotmail.co.uk

Falmer – Tuesday (time tbc) – contact Megan on 07828649268

Grand Parade – no stall available until Thurs 24th but leafleting there next Thursday 12-2pm – contact Ollie on 07896090074 oroliverfournier@peacemail.com

Everyone organising stalls make sure you have: posters, leaflets, people, strike fund bucket, banners (if you can find any), fun stuff…

Also a reminder that nominations for SU elections close soon – the 9th February – so if you wish to stand then don’t forget.

We will be hosting a band night at Hector’s House (pub next to Grand Parade) on 22nd February. Please come and spread the word.

Next meeting will be on Wednesday at Moulsecoomb, exact details to follow.

 

Jan 26th Meeting

University of Brighton Student Union Elections

Tim met Sam Mallender (University of Brighton Student Union President) to find out more about the upcoming SU elections and the dates and deadlines of it.

  • Nominations are now open
  • To nominate yourself you need five backers to sign saying they will pledge their support to you*
  • 9th February is the closing date for nominations
  • 14th February is the deadline for publicity materials to be forwarded to the SU for your campaign.

*I think this is meant to mean that they have to actually be ready to support your campaigning efforts, and not just sign like a petition.

Although it is felt that ultimately the staff will always have the overriding powering in deciding the direction of the university, it is felt that the stop the cuts movement should make attempts at stimulating the union into being more pro-active in external and internal affairs through providing debate among the staff and students. We need people who can articulate themselves and present solid arguments that might have the potential to encourage greater political activity among the student and staff bodies. We want the UBSU to be more than just some careerist sabbaticals who fill their c.v.’s representing student apathy.

We are exploring a variety of possibilities to achieve this both as individuals and as a collective. There was a general agreement that we back Tim Huzar for what ever position he chooses to nominate himself for. Again the general agreement was that we should support Tim as an individual, and not just a “spokesperson” for the Brighton University Stop The Cuts group. This way he can make a pitch that appeals to the wider student body and potentially achieve a greater potential. We also explored the possibility of running a ‘slate’ nomination for election that would seek to campaign collectively as a group for multiple positions on the union.

This topic is very high on the agenda for next week as there will only be one more opportunity to decide on this collectively. Tim is going to gather some more information to present at the next meeting so if your interested in this, please come to the next meeting and put your point of view across.

More information is available at : http://www.ubsu.net/suelections

Brighton Source Magazine

Brighton Source Magazine wanted to do an article, on students becoming politicised through the student protests, with some comment from us but unfortunately they went to print before it was raised in the meeting. They did however mention us. It will be in the forthcoming  February  edition of source which you can find here as a PDF http://www.brightonsource.co.uk/.

It is also distributed to various university campuses, including halls of residence.

Brighton and Sussex University Joint Meeting

We decided that we will meet on the 9th of February instead of our usual meeting to discuss our common aims. Most likely it will be held on their campus and details to follow.

Coach Tickets

Brighton UCU have booked a coach for the demo on saturday, tickets are £8.40, available to staff and students.

Get in touch with either (depending on your campus)

Vicky Margree  (Pavilion Parade) – V.Margree@brighton.ac.uk

Patricia McManus (Elsewhere) – P.Mcmanus@brighton.ac.uk

“Con-Dem-Ed” Leaflets

We want to create a flyer that targets student groups in a more holistic sense. We have felt that our previous flyers have focused to much on our own issues and this gives others the impression of self-interest. Whilst it is true that a lot of what people do in general can be attributed to self-interest, we want to engage and inform key groups listed below. This list is not exhaustive but illustrates the groups we need to engage.

  • International students
  • Teaching students
  • Health students
  • Union members
  • General public / apathetic students

UCU Ballot – February

The UCU are balloting for strike action in some time in February and considering the tremendous solidarity and support they have given us we are looking to flyer lecturers and students. We proposed to make a separate leaflet for lecturers to encourage them to ballot for action and one for students to encourage them to support their action. A pamphlet was also suggested. More details to follow.

It is imperative that we show them our support.

Update

See here for a map.

To coincide with the London lobby of Parliament when the vote on EMA is being taken there is a protest at 16:00 this Wednesday, Old Steine.

The first issue of a Brighton Stop the Cuts newsletter, to be distributed around UoB campuses, is almost ready to go out.  If anyone would like to contribute to the next one feel free to email this account with a sub five hundred word article.  All articles relating to the broad stop the cuts movement are welcome, although we haven’t worked out the editorial proceedures yet.  Anyone interesting in helping with photocopying / distribution / anything else please do get in touch, it’s still very early days.

Finally, University of Birmingham is in occupation!  More info at their blog.