Sunday, 5 December 2010

Protest Against Local Lib Dem, Sarah Teather, To Stop Rising Fees

Tuesday, December 7 · 3:00pm - 6:00pm

Brent Central consituency office: 1 High Road, Willesden Green, London, NW10 2TE (or meet at harrow campus on the street at 2pm)

In the run up to the parliamentary vote on 'increasing tution fees' this Thursday, 9th December ( it is imperative we keep up the pressure on our Local MPs and advocate they vote against against it.

The Lib Dems are in a particularly vulnerable position as part of the coalition who gained many of their votes from students who they had promised not only to stop increasing fees,... but to banish them all together!

Reports show the student movement against fees and cuts has already made massive inroads as the very MP who put forward these proposals, Vince Cable, has come out and publicy said he may well abstain on the vote (

This is just the beginning.

The University of Westminster's Harrow Campus has many students who reside and vote in the Brent Central area where Lib Dem MP Minster for Children and Families, Sarah Teather, holds a seat.

She is keeping low on the radar and has not announced how she will vote on the 9th. This is good .. She is clearly not confident to come out and say she will vote in favour.

We know that in the past, as the Lib Dems Minister for Education, she has voted strongly-against student top-up fees. let's hold her to account and make sure she follows this logic in the vote on the 9th.

She has also voted against the war in Iraq and the Trident nuclear programme. UWSU has a free education policy and believes that as well as taxing big business, these are two other areas where funding for education could be found. Let's push this message too!

So, this Tuesday we will have a demonstration outside Sarah Teather's constituency office where we will pass over a set of demands including 'a vote against rising tuition fees' and a warning (including signed petitions) that Brent students will not vote for her if she fails to deliver what we've asked.

It will be peaceful and lively demo complete with chanting, singing and a special prize for the most imaginative UWSU/student banner.

Meet outside her office at 3pm or, meet at Harrow Campus on the street at 2pm and we'll travel together.


Finally, Robin Law, UWSU President, went to the National Union of Students headquaters last week and they've estimated that the vote on tuiton fees is very close - 300 for and 293 against! Westminster students, we have everything to play for .. let's do it.

For more information call your VP Education, Jade Baker, on: 07595738396

Friday, 12 November 2010

We should have solidarity with the students of Millbank ..

"The real vandalism is not a few Millbank windows broken, but £9,000 fees destroying the dreams of many young people going to university" - John McDonnell MP
The students who besieged Millbank Tower on 10 November were right to do so, and should be saluted, not condemned. The right of millions of people to a decent education and decent life is infinitely more important than the property of corporations and their political arm, the Tory party.

Let us explain what we mean.

The coalition government and the right-wing media are straining every muscle to condemn the actions of those who besieged Millbank Tower, which includes Tory HQ, at the end of the NUS/UCU demonstration in London.

We should refuse to accept the arguments being used against the protesters.
NUS President Aaron Porter has condemned the protest for the same reason that he refuses to demand free education – he puts looking respectable, his relationship with the Labour Party leadership, and his career, above taking on and defeating the government (if he can conceive of doing that at all).

Phrases such as “extremist”, “divisive” and “the violence of a minority” need to be broken down.
Extremist? Well, the action at Tory HQ was certainly radical, reflecting the anger millions of young people and others feel. And that is exactly what is called for! The Tories’ agenda, which will disrupt, shorten and brutalise the lives of millions of students and tens of millions of working-class people to shore up the profits of the rich, is extreme – in fact, a form of violence in itself (in fact, "the violence of a minority" is quite an apt description). Their policy on fees is quite clearly a violation of popular will even expressed, according to the low standards of capitalist democracy, at the ballot box. We will need much more such radical action (by students, and above all by workers) to defeat them.

The government, which expected a much smaller and nice, polite, A to B march, is scared and on the back foot. Good! As as for our side, if Tory HQ had not been besieged, the protest would not have had the galvanising, inspiring affect it seems to have had for so many – including huge numbers of British workers who read about it in the papers or heard about it on the news, and for activists all around the world.

We can build on this by a thorough-going debate in the movement about the demands, forms of action and tactics necessary to push forward our advantage. Such tactics will not necessarily always involve smashing windows, and those who fetishise such actions are wrong to do so. But such tactics are legitimate, and the necessary debate will be undermined, not aided, by Porter-style condemnations of direct action.

Divisive? The media, aided by Porter, have gone out of their way to contrast the respectable majority of demonstrators to those who took part in the Millbank action. It is not so clear that most demonstrators would condemn what happened. Anyone who was there on the day will tell you that the mood was militant. In any case, it is not the Millbank action which is dividing the movement, but the NUS leadership’s condemnation of it in step with the Tories and their press.

The violence of a minority? Yes, the Millbank protesters were a minority of the demonstration! So what? So were those who sat down in Parliament Square – an action which the NUS stewards also tried to stop. Those at Tory HQ were not a small clique, but numbered many thousands – and we should not be afraid to defend our mass action, including its use of force.

There were some utterly stupid actions by small numbers of people – throwing a fire extinguisher off the roof, for instance – which any reasonable person would condemn, and which the great majority of protesters put a stop to (by chanting “Stop throwing shit”, until they did). But our condemnation of this stupidity can have nothing in common with condemnation of the Millbank protest itself. The “violence” involved at Millbank was basically violence against property – except in so far as the police intervened and forced violent clashes (a number of their victims are still in hospital).

We repeat, unashamedly, that people’s right to education and a decent life is more important than the property of corporations and their political wing, the Conservative Party (which exists to defend the interests of a tiny minority). Infinitely more important! So, yes, we were right to do what we did!

Look back through two hundred-plus years of working-class and democratic struggles against exploitation and oppression, all over the world. No major struggle has ever been won by respect for the laws of property, or by relinquishing our right to self-defence.

The early 20th century the women's suffrage movement, for instance, carried out acts of small-scale – and not so small-scale – terrorism. The problem with their movement was not its use of force, but the fact that it was elitist – a problem remedied by the working-class women's suffrage movement in East London, led by Sylvia Pankhurst, which wielded force on the basis of democratic mass mobilisation. That is the tradition the Millbank action stands in!

In the 1984-5 miners’ strike, Margaret Thatcher's Tory government set out to destroy a powerful union and devastate whole communities, as part of its more general drive against the working class. When the miners fought back, and met police violence with violence of their own, they were right to do so! Aaron Porter stands in the disgraceful tradition of Labour leader Neil Kinnock, who instead of backing the strike and fighting for its victory condemned the violence of the striking miners.

That is why striking firefighters can be run down by scabs in full sight of the police, while students smashing windows are condemned as violent.

Of course the current struggles are on a different scale from the miners' strike - for now. But in a system where capitalists and the governments that serve them can devastate millions of lives at whim, and use their highly trained, highly violent police thugs to enforce those decisions, it is legitimate for us to fight fire with fire.

We should defend and celebrate the protest at Tory HQ on 10 November!


Sunday, 24 October 2010

Students Launch the Fightback Against Cuts and Fees in Style

Westminster students enraged by the ConDem government's plans to cut back education spending on an unprecedented scale, and to set fees soaring at the same time, joined over 600 students on an anti-cuts demonstration last Wednesday against the official announcement of budget cuts made in the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR).

Students angered by the prospect of an education system falling into disrepair from universities across London met at the University of London Union, on Malet Street, and fed their protest into a much larger demonstration of over 3, 000 workers and trade unionists for a march to Downing Street. See: (look out for Westminster students involved in The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts in the video too)

This marked only the very beginning of the struggle which now faces students and workers alike. Who are about to embark on a period which - as some more relastic estimates have put it - could see over 3 million people unemployed. This will not only be disastrous for the average worker trying to bring home the beans for the family, but, it also means there will be a dire lack of jobs for graduates too.

Students will have a dual role to play in times ahead: fighting for the right of employment and fighting to protect education.

If the government gets away with what it intends, this will mean the end of education as we know it. The end of social mobility; the end of a decent education for all; the end of the chance for people to live out their potentials.

A quality university education would only be afforded by the rich, the rest of society will be left with two year 'vocational courses'. The enlightening and life transforming chance to spend three years in all sorts of academic enquiry will no longer exist for the vast majority.

This is nothing short of a disaster.

Fight Cuts at Westminster, along with help from the lecturers union UCU, has been rallying students over the past two months and previous academic year at a set of different events including 'ConDem The Cuts To Education', which heard from the likes of left-wing legend Labour MP, John McDonnell and The National Union of Students' Education Officer, Usman Ali.

We held our first protest of the term at Regent Street Campus on Wednesday (before marching to ULU) and are now looking to step up our activity and ramp up student engagement. Together we can beat the cuts! Last year our actions, which included a three day occupation of the Vice Chancellor's Office, managed to save 100 jobs. This year we must save them all.

So, to get involved in the fight to save our education, keep an eye out on facebook for our events and organising meetings. Do come along!

Sing, shout, protest .. just get the message out.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

ConDem the Browne Review, students must fight back!

Today, the infamous Browne Review of higher education funding has recommended lifting the cap on fees, leaving universities free to charge students what they like.

This means a switch to a complete free market in Higher Education, with newer institutions charging double what we pay now at £7,000 a year, and in theory, older elite universities charging anywhere up to the sum of £20, 000. Let’s bear in mind the striking fact that fees didn’t even exist just over a decade ago; they were introduced in 1998 at £1, 000, and have been on the steady increase ever since. Those who plan to make this devastating reform had the pleasure of a free education, why can’t we?

What more did we expect from the former chief of BP however, who was commissioned by the government to suggest changes in HE funding and essentially ‘take the slack’ for the unpopular changes they plan to implement. What does he, an ex-multi millionaire, know about being hard-up and looking to education as a root out!?

This is exactly the kind of background many of our students at Westminster come from, and unlimited fees will no doubt put these types of students off for fear of having such a high burden of debt. Not only that, but many will lose out on the chance to go to university in the first place with the ConDem government’s 25 – 40% planned budget cuts in education; let’s not forget that this year alone, 200, 000 applications to university were declined! Browne’s Review calls for an increase in student places by 10 percent over three years, that’s 30,000 extra places; well that’s still 170, 000 from this year alone without a place and we all know that student applications are rising. You do the math! So much for this government’s calls for “fairness”.

Westminster has a very special role to play in this society and Browne’s review seeks to undermine it; we’re part of the widening participation initiative which means we have a higher percentage (44%, 07/08) of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds and provide them with an opportunity to participate in a well-funded, quality education. We also have an above UK average for full time undergraduate students from state schools (96%, 07/08).
Yes, our university plays a vital role in educating the working classes!

However, as it stands, that is not to say that students from a similar background might not study at a pre-1992 ‘more prestigious’ university like Leeds, UCL or even Oxford. At the moment the chances to do so are there, albeit that these aren’t always equal chances.

Nevertheless, the implications of what the Browne Review has suggested means that this chance, to study at a world-renowned higher education institute, will dissolve into thin air. With only the richest students being able to afford the astronomical prices, which will see the likes of Cambridge and Oxford set to the tune of 10, 000+. Access into university will be based on bank balances rather than academic ability.

This will only serve to create a two-tier university system whereby the minority in this society - the rich - have access to a high calibre of education and the rest of us will be herded into poorer universities, where we’ll pay what fees we can afford, but they’ll be underfunded and quite frankly miserable!

We’ve already seen post-1992 universities, our own included, losing departments in Languages and teaching staff in Social Sciences, which come under the category of ‘Blue Sky’ (ideas), research type degrees with no barriers.

The government plans to make these ‘Blue Sky’ degrees available in the elitist institutions only and pave the way for nothing more than vocational ‘workers’ degrees in establishments like ours. This is massively in tune with what’s going on now: at Westminster we’ve lost Russian and Greek courses; at London South Bank they’ve just had their entire language department shut; at Middlesex last year their world-renowned, entire Philosophy department was shut to fit with this agenda.

Students must fight back! The government is testing the water with this recommendation and will be looking to see what the reaction from students and the rest of society is.
We must take action and make it clear that this will not be tolerated; we’ve got to protect our education from the increasing neo-liberalism higher education has become subject to over the past decade. Education is about people and society, not profits!
And that should be our overarching message.


· If you would like to hear more about the Browne Review and what students can do to fight back, join the Fight Cuts at Westminster Campaign next Monday 18th October for a Public rally against higher fees in The old Cinema at Regents Street Campus, 6 pm.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

UWSU votes YES on a FREE EDUCATION policy ..

Okay, Westminster Students, here was part of my pitch ..

Why Our Education Policy should be for a FREE Education
Let’s get this straight: Free education is a political term referring to education that is funded through taxation rather than tuition fees.

Let’s now backtrack to 1996 the year when tuition fees were introduced (yes, just over a decade ago universities did not charge fees) at a fixed basis of £1000; the student resistance at the time was quite weak, according to student activists from back in the day. They believe that the introduction of fees could have been stopped with a little more FIGHT; today I believe we must advocate for a free education and the principles surrounding it but also FIGHT (like they should have then) to stop the ever increasing price and marketisation of education.
So, where are we at?

Just over a decade ago education was funded by general taxation, I see no reason at all why this cannot be today (Let’s remember the top 1000 richest in the country maximised their wealth by 77 billion this year alone. Not only that, but money can be saved in military and conflict spending; by nationalising organisations such as banks - we are the majority shareholder in RBS anyway - and using the profits to fund education and general welfare. This list goes on, and on).
In essence, problems in education came to blows when fees were introduced. All of a sudden education was seen as a commodity; not as a good in itself, for society, for the well being of the individual. It was seen as a ticket into the workplace, and although this is a true statement to an extent, it is problematic.

Top up fees were introduced and education really became something that could be bought (students felt/feel they have to go to university as it would be a barrier to entry on the job market if they didn’t) and today in 2010 we see HE priced at £3290 a year. However, when the Browne Review comes in the autumn it is almost inevitable (being an ex-chair of a corporate oil company BP an all) that he will suggest lifting the cap. Paving the way for universities to charge whatever they think their ‘breed’ of students can afford.
This will start to create a massive wedge in between the elitist institutions and the workers’ institutions. More vocational institutions. Fundamentally, they want a return to the pre-1992 polytechnic situation.

I believe we have to fight against this lift off the cap and against cuts in education too. They want to cut our funding by 25 per cent whilst hiking prices two, three or even four fold. You do the math!

So, I plead that our policy be for a FREE education, open and accessible to all who want it. It should not be a ticket which is deterministic only to job entry (also, university isn’t for everyone). The key element here is choice and the ideology that education is a BASIC HUMAN RIGHT.

However, I understand that to jump from a scenario where the cap is quite possibly about to be lifted to a free education is a massive one. Nevertheless, I believe we must fight against rising fees and against the reactionary graduate tax (see below) in the meantime, but always persist and advocate for a free education and all the reasons encompassed within that.
Jade Baker, VP Education

Friday, 6 August 2010

Sign Up: Students' School of ECS Cutbacks Declaration..

Dear ECS Students,

You may be aware that the university has very recently undergone a controversial and unnecessarily demoralising “restructuring” process, whereby 48 ECS staff members have been laid-off by precarious voluntary or compulsory redundancies.

An ECS/ UCU member stated at the end of June on “ECS staff would not wish our worst enemy to go through the agony of waiting to receive an email for an interview that does not arrive, or the wait for some months now to find out whether we have a job after July. It goes without saying; therefore, that ECS staff sincerely hope that no other school will have to experience our predicament.”

Equally infuriating, management from the School of ECS have not, until recently, liaised with the students about the possible effects of this, or even asked them for their opinions on the cutbacks.
The effects of this negligent restructure is already taking its toll and impeding students’ studies.
To take an anecdotal example, last February, second year students were given a Final Project Supervisor Sheet (listing area specialties) and were told if they wanted to up their grades: a) endeavour to find work experience and b) initiate and start researching/ carrying out their Final Projects. They were asked to hand in the sheets by June 10th but the climate of sporadic redundancies prohibited many lecturers from knowing whether they’d still be at Westminster come September to supervise on any projects; and so, effectively, students and staff were both left in the lurch. This hinders students from achieving the best possible outcome from denying prompt research and creates a culture of fright and uncertainty for tutors who fear for their job security. Concurrently, this leads to a focus for lecturers on whether they’ll be able to pay next month’s mortgage rather than concentrating on next month’s student assessments. This is NOT fair and is an indictment on university management.

As many students refused to hand in the sheet until they knew their chosen supervisor would be staying put, the university quite rightly agreed to put back the date to the July 8th.
However, today, August 5th and students have still not been notified on who will be here next year and what modules will be affected.

This only hits the tip of the iceberg with regards to the current and likely problems the School of ECS and most importantly, its students, will face come next term. The foreseeable are larger class sizes; less one on one tutorial and class time with tutors; marking taking measurably longer to come back; pre-advertised modules being dropped; tutors which do not specialise in relevant and important specific areas; overworked and miserable lecturers. It seems ludicrous to cut staff back by a third but to keep student intake at the same level. If any of the above become actualities this could well fall within the remit of ‘failure to deliver’ what was promised by the university in the module handbook for example, and is a suable offence.
What’s more, the Students’ Union met with the Deputy of ECS, Stephen Winters, over two weeks ago and he promised to have the list of remaining supervisors shipped out to students. As stated above, this has NOT happened.

Further to that, he also reassured us that he would send out a declaration to all students promising the quality of their education will not drop over the upcoming year. This has also NOT happened.

We understand that the university’s line is essentially these cuts have been implemented to act as a buffer when the upcoming cuts to education in 2011, from the Higher Education Funding Council and this ConDem government, take effect.

However, we believe that there are many other ways the university could have made savings (as well as consulting students beforehand): like taking a salary cut over the top layers of management who between 2008-2009, hired four new deans and two executive governors, who got paid between £100,00 and £129,000 per year. Not only by cutting the ridiculously high salaries of the ever increasing layers of management, but also, the astronomical amounts of money which must have been spent or rebranding the university and consultancies. Further to that, the university has dusted itself off of many vital lecturing staff but has enough weight in its pocket to hire a new PR team, who will be starting in September. The list goes on.


· We demand that the list of remaining lecturers be released!
· We demand that a statement ensuring the quality of education will not fall is constructed!
· We demand that remaining and dropped modules be brought to our attention!

Please Sign.

* Alex Keable - Crouch
* Panagiotis Zavatzki
* Zbigniew Chmielewski (Mobile and Wireless Computing)
* Flaminia Giambalvo (Alumni)
* Amy Wilkes
* Ali Abbas
* Matthew Banham
* Mahad Mohamud (French & Arabic)
* Davinderpal Singh Rehal
* Natasha McGechan (Vice President activities, UWSU)
* Kamilla Koncz (English Literature)
* Seyed Ali Hosseini (Software Engineering)
* Rakesh Vishwanath
* Goochie Shack
* Queenie TC Wong
* Laurence Oliphant

Jade Lori Baker
VP Education, UWSU

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Letter from a concerned ECS student ..

I have been with the University of Westminster for 7 years, as a part time mature student, studying Electronic Engineering.
I have witnessed the development of the Cavendish campus electronics, software and IT departments, including investments in large new laboratories and computer rooms, all essential for students as these rooms are normally at maximum capacity all through the year(and it is increasingly difficult to find a quiet place to work or a free computer terminal).
Classes have generally become larger and noisier throughout my time at Cavendish campus, in the last 4 years or so.
I have also been working part time as a support worker for disabled students of the university, taking notes and helping in the library with their studies. Therefore I have been present in many lectures outside the Electronics department and Cavendish campus, where I study, and I have witnessed the same problems with class numbers elsewhere.
I am certain that any departmental reduction in staff numbers, without a corresponding reduction in student numbers, will damage the quality of education that has apparently been a long tradition at the university (my father was a student at the Regent street campus, previously the Regent Street Polytechnic, during his architecture degree in the 1970's; he speaks highly of the previous institution as it once stood).
Furthermore, in regards to Cavendish campus, it is illogical and redundant to make cuts to the ECS department staff, after such significant investment in the resources of laboratories and computers. Quite the opposite should be in order. Expansion of the discipline and its academic rigor! If students are failing the courses it is because of the high level that they demand. Electronics, engineering and the sciences are not intended to be "easy" degrees to obtain. It is actually the opposite as I have discovered! (what else?)If the university board decides to make its drastic cuts, I fear that they will play a part in the downfall of the UK's role in Electronics and Computer Science.
We should not forget the likes of the first computer scientist, Charles Babbage, and the great British computing engineers, mathematicians & inventors that followed him, such as the great Paul Dirac who developed Quantum Mechanics, and whom have all contributed to developing the most important technologies of the 20th century, helping to bring about the digital age that the world is now experiencing. Standing against these cuts is to stand for the institutions and practices that make the UK a place of academic excellence, steeped in the history of human achievement. We as the British people do not want to lose that legacy and privileged position in the world.

A J Golland, BEng Electronic Engineering,

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Guinea Pigs? Electronics and Computer Science

Whilst you students have been off gallivanting over the globe, getting up to all sorts of hazy summer mischief and most probably not giving your studies more than a momentary thought, BIG changes have swung into effect at Westminster.

It should come as no surprise to you, if you've been keeping up with Fight Cuts, that a third of Electronics and Computer Science School staff have been whittled out through an intensely demoralising voluntary redundancy period. Not to mention the 15 compulsories. So, that's a grand total of 48 less lecturers and guess what: student intake for next year is remaining the same.

This comes after a "restructuring" initiative from management whereby HSCS (Harrow School of Computer Science) has been upheaved and moved to Westminster's Cavendish Site.

Not only has this caused massive upset for many students, who enrolled with the premise of studying at Harrow, but alarm now saturates the air as the new building, which is under construction as we speak, is scheduled to finish the day before enrollment! When these concerns were raised with a deputy staff member from ECS recently, his awkward reply was: "It simply has to be finished on time". Here's to hoping ..

In essence this ill-thought-out "restructure" will see pre-advertised modules dropped, larger class sizes, less tete a tete with tutors and what can only amount to a dying quality of education.

Let's be frank here, who gives two shits about being homed in a plush new building, without teachers (let's keep in mind how overworked the ones who have survived the chop will be) the whole 'education thang' goes to pot.

Worries have been aired by the lecturer's union, UCU, that the ECS debacle is a guinea pig test case for future cuts. They believe Westminster Business School is the segment management would like to dissect but unfortunately, due to high unionisation within the School, the university have picked an easier target for now.

Well, guess what Westminster, our students aren't defenseless guinea pigs! They have a voice and you can bet they'll be using it come September.

Already, students have been pouring into the Students' Union with complaints regarding the ECS cut backs and the implications of them.

There will be more information (and, of course, a campaign surrounding this) shortly..

In the meantime feel free to contact me regarding any of the above,

Jade Baker, VP Education

Say NO to a Graduate Tax .. and here's why, courtesy of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts ..

1. We oppose the Lib Dem-Tory coalition government’s plans for a graduate tax. At the same time, this “exercise in rebranding” fees (as lecturers’ union UCU put it) is not the only or even the worst problem with Vince Cable’s plans, which amount to a massive extension of marketisation in our university system.

We demand an end to all fees, free education and living grants for all students; we want higher education to be run as a public service, funded by taxing the rich and business.
2. The graduate tax is rebranding because the existing system is already, as Cable has admitted, a form of graduate tax. Under his plans, students will still pay for university, and in fact pay more, with all the inevitable consequences in terms of access to higher education. A graduate tax is the Lib Dems’ way of squaring their promise to abolish fees with their enthusiastic participation in a right-wing Tory government committed to further marketising higher education.

The leaderships of the National Union of Students and the Labour Party are, unfortunately, in agreement with the government that students should pay for university. NUS in particularly has been utterly pathetic, falling over itself to welcome Cable’s proposals. The real question is why students should have to pay at all. We do not expect those who use the NHS to pay any kind of charge or tax, nor those who have children and use schools. The same goes for all kinds of other public services funded out of general taxation. The Tories and Lib Dems might like a world where people are charged for using hospitals or schools, but they don’t dare admit it. So why should university or college be any different?

Education is a good in itself, a public service which benefits individuals and society. It should not be seen as a ticket to a higher paid job, particularly since the great majority of those who graduate from university will not be high paid, if they are lucky enough to get a job at all. “User pays” is an extremely dangerous principle, a wedge pushed into the heart of the welfare state.
Of course, we will be told that the money for free education isn’t there. Yet this year, just the individuals on the Sunday Times “rich list” – that’s the 1,000 wealthiest people in the country – increased their wealth by £77 billion. So much for “all in it together”! Compare that to the £7 billion the scrapped Building Schools for the Future scheme costs, or the £8 billion it would cost to abolish all fees, not only for British students but international ones as well (the figure for home students only is £2.7 billion).

The idea that cuts and higher fees are necessary or unavoidable is simply nonsense. The reality is that this government of millionaires is seeking to make the vast majority of people – workers, the unemployed, pensioners, students – pay for the crisis the bankers created while the rich, after a little wobble, continue to rake it in.

We shouldn’t let them pull the wool over our eyes. We should demand that instead of making cuts the government scraps Trident, taxes the rich, takes over the wealth of the banks which we are subsidising as taxpayers anyway. The public is a majority shareholder in RBS. Why not use its profits rather than the scraped-together savings of working-class graduates to pay for education?

The choice is not universities vs schools or universities vs hospitals. It’s between the jobs and services we all need and the greed of big business and the super-rich.

3. At the same time, Vince Cable says he wants to see some two-year degrees, more students living at home, university closures/mergers – according to the Guardian, at least twenty universities will close in the next few years under his plans – and a big expansion of private universities. He wants to expand the marketised system which New Labour put in place, meaning a liberal education for an elite and low-quality, underfunded training to turn the rest of us into pliant workers for exploitation. Though NUS has failed to recognise it, this is the central thrust of his plans, and must be vigorously opposed.

4. Just as there will be strikes by public sector and other workers against the government’s plans for cuts, there will be mass student resistance, continuing the surge in occupations and direct action against cuts which began last year. NUS’s welcoming of a graduate tax suggests that it will be at best an unreliable leader for that resistance. The National Campaign Againt Fees and Cuts exists to coordinate the fight back, strengthen it and help it win.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

UoW students support the marking boycott

To our fellow University of Westminster students,

We write to express our support for the UCU staff and their current marking boycott. While such action is, of course, unpleasant all round, we know that our tutors have been forced to take this action by the management of the University of Westminster, who have resisted every attempt by the UCU to engage in meaningful discussion of their proposed job cuts. The trade unions that represent staff (namely the lecturers’ union, UCU, and the support staff union, UNISON) have argued that (1) such cuts are unnecessary as they are based on a ‘projected’, rather than a real deficit, and; (2) such cuts, if implemented, would result in a serious deterioration of the quality of education at this university. Such a deterioration is inevitable, if job cuts are made, and will affect us ALL. Clearly there is money available; you only have to look at the tens of thousands of pounds spent on the refurbishment of the Regent Street Campus and the fact that the Vice-Chancellor earns over £200,000 a year. Why should people lose their jobs and our education (an education that costs us all £3225+ a year) suffer because of mismanagement?

While we are in no doubt as to the intentions of our tutors and the importance of our education to them all, on the other hand we are constantly reminded that the management of our university see it as a profit-making business and forget that education should be the number one priority of ALL involved in its running. We write as students from all stages in our degrees – some of us have just completed our first year and some are due to graduate this Summer. Of course, it is not ideal for any of us to be without our results, but the cost of late results is no comparison to losing over 200 of our much needed teaching staff. We are united with the UCU members and we will continue to join them on the picket lines and demonstrate our support whenever we have the opportunity.

We fully understand that the intention of the current marking boycott is not to hurt us and our fellow students but to force management to sit down and negotiate seriously with the unions. As we are all aware, this dispute could be resolved easily and quickly, if management would agree to hold mediated talks with the unions. We ask that, until management agree to negotiations, the UCU continue their action, not just in the name of their jobs but in the name of our education. Student support for the UCU action and for the Anti-Cuts campaign as a whole is strong and we will continue to make this clear, and to spread the word to every University of Westminster student (past, present and future) through our own, peaceful, action.

What can you do?
The Fight Cuts Campaign was set up as student organisation that brought together students who are against the job cuts at this university. We have been campaigning against the cuts and in support of staff because we believe that a united response is the most effective strategy to save this university from further deterioration. You can find out more about our activities on our blog:

In the short-term, there are other ways in which students can lend a voice to the current dispute. Write to the Vice-Chancellor Geoff Petts ( and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Ricki Morgan-Tamosunas (, urging them to end the current dispute by finding a settlement with the unions. The unions do not want to be in this position but feel they have no choice; management, on the other hand, could very easily find a resolution to this dispute if only they were willing. The more pressure we put on management as students united with staff, the more likely it is that management will return to the negotiating table.

We urge all students not to direct their anger at staff. This is a difficult time for all staff concerned, some of whom have already lost their jobs, and we should be showing our solidarity with them. TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER.

All at The Fight Cuts Campaign

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Support the UCU's Marking Boycott - a letter to students..

Students may be aware, a dispute is currently taking place between university management and the staff’s union (UCU) over the unreasonable and unjustifiable job cuts, which could see our tutors sacked in the hundreds (yes, this is a big deal).

If tutors and admin staff go that means larger classes; less time with tutors; overworked and stressed tutors; overall, a dwindling quality of education.

To top this all off it will be taking place alongside a backdrop of rising fees. Do these university ‘bosses’ take us for fools? They want to take away what little time and attention we get from our lecturers and make us pay for the pleasure, like it’s some kind of perk! Two words: ludicrous, nonsensical.

To find out why the planned job cuts are illogical and not ‘necessary’ read the Fight Cuts at Westminster Blog here:

So, to fight for a decent future in Higher Education we must stand in solidarity with our lectures - now before it’s too late - and any action they take to save their jobs and fundamentally our - and the following generations - educations

On May 5th lecturers went out on strike to withdraw their labour and send shockwaves to management, making them aware that compulsory redundancies will not be taken lightly, and too right!

To follow on from that, some of our lecturers will be taking part in ‘Action Short of Strike’ which was overwhelmingly voted for in the latest UCU ballot.

This action began recently on March, 21, and means that tutors will be boycotting marking exams and coursework for a short while causing slight disruption in the marking process.

This is one of the only ways to reinforce to management how important tutors are within the education system, without them it simply wouldn’t work. It almost seems if management had their way they’d cut back on staff entirely; leaving us no resources other than books, but they’d still take our money!

The boycott may mean getting your results back a little late, and yes, is a pain! But, UCU has been left with no other option; they’ve been in negotiations with management for months now and results have been fruitless. This ‘action’ really is the last resort.

Please join us in supporting our lecturers through this time and hopefully together we have a better chance at saving the future of higher education..

Fight Cuts at Westminster

Monday, 22 March 2010

I support my lecturers; do you? If so, tell them to vote for strike!

The University of Westminster kicked off its staff strike-balloting period on Friday, March 19. To mark this, a public rally that heard from the likes of radical 1968 veteran, Michael Rosen, was held earlier on that week, on Wednesday.

On a macro level, Rosen spread the sentiment that this is a global struggle for all public service workers, yet, on a micro level, urged university staff that their smaller struggle is of phenomenal importance and that they must resist the intended reforms for HE.

Speakers from our students’ grassroots movement ‘Fight Cuts at Westminster Campaign’ reinforced the sentiment, and furthermore ensured staff that they are wholly behind strike action. They described it as: “a few days disruption for the sake of the next generations right to an unrestricted education.”

Other speakers, which regaled with stories of strike successes, included representatives from KCL, UCL and Sussex. Viren Swami, Westminster UCU, particularly smashed it in an emotive speech that asked why hardworking staff should have to pay for managements financial “fuck-up”.

The ballot closes on April 20; up until now Westminster’s unions have been beaten down and subsequently found themselves fairly inactive, let’s hope the current climate and sudden mass student resistance movement will encourage to staff to vote “YES”.

As students we can raise awareness through word-of-mouth and active resistance. Talk to your friends and your tutors about this ... together we can beat managements ludicrous plans!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Where's the logic? Part 2 ..

By now, our stance on course slashes is pretty unambiguous; not welcome, utterly unacceptable, practically criminal.

This opinion is held even more tightly in line with the recent news that quality, profit making language courses, are set for the chop. Once again; where's the logic?

Worryingly, the popular Russian Undergraduate Degree, among others, has come under threat. To counter management's proposal to close the course, students and tutors fought back last week with a lively, colorful and heartfelt protest at Regents Campus.

For those of you that were not lucky enough to experience the vaudeville, demonstrators were dressed in traditional Russian clothing and teaching passers by to say hello: "Здравствуйте!"

Management have asked the department to deliver a proposal suggesting how to save Russian by March 19; what a demoralising and unneccessary request. Clearly there are a wealth of students studying the course, what more could warrant its right to exist? (Must add, Russian tutors at Westminster are truly lucid, able and quality language teachers).

A petition collated 125 signatures in an hour, a definite display of the courses popularity and a resistance to any course cuts.

What's more, tutors are planning to combat this by proposing to re- introduce beginners' Russian. Let's hope it's a winner.

Ever wondered what it's like to occupy? A student's account ..

"The Vice Chancellor’s office had uncomfortable black leather chairs, a dingy brown carpet and a curious wall design. It was a cramped sort of space, crowded and noisy. Outside, I could hear the police laughing over some joke, one pleasant and humorous blonde woman with spiky hair and a burly brown-haired man I had immediately disliked. He had given me a bit of a shove as soon as he had seen me, then he had threatened the rest of us with random stop and searches. I wondered what it was going to be like spending the next few days and nights here.

I hadn’t known the occupation was going to take place at first and had just got caught up in it. Just a few hours ago we had swarmed a finance meeting with the Vice Chancellor in it. He was a slimy sort of guy, this Professor Geoffrey E Petts. He hadn’t answered any of the questions we had put to him and had claimed he didn’t have a diary to set up a meeting with student involvement. We were going to learn just how slimy he was as the days went by.

I was ravenously hungry like everyone else because we had all skipped lunch. I had also, on this day of all days, forgotten my mobile phone. So I couldn’t call my family to let them know that I wasn’t going to come back home for a little while. I desperately needed to use the bathroom. But I couldn’t. It was a pretty desperate sort of situation. Money was no good here. There was nobody from the outside that could help out.

The problem was, the occupation was uncertain at the moment so we all had to stay put and not get too comfortable. The police were outside, security kept on making a friendly appearance every so often and we had to guard the door – a task which I volunteered myself for. Security and the police were trying to intimidate us by pestering us for access into the room. We’d let them have a check before but had to make clear that this was a student occupation.

After a few tense hours when we were all wondering what the university was going to do, what we were all going to do, a few guys decided to go out and get some supper. This was our first naïve mistake. They never came back. Neither did the food.

Security had decided that anyone that left the occupation wouldn’t be allowed back into the university. We asked them if we could go out to use the bathroom. They said no. They were trying to starve us out and make things as bad as possible for us so that we just left.

We got the phone calls straight away from the people that had gone outside telling us what had happened. This made the whole group nervous and outraged. One of the lecturers outside the door called me over so I opened the door for him. He was a portly man with white hair. He asked me if we were alright and then I explained the situation to him. He shook his head sadly, hardly believing what I was telling him.

Eventually, the food did come. But the other students were not allowed in. One of the security guards had gone against the specific instructions from the university and brought it up to us. Everything was ice cold but we were all famished and thankful for it and to him.

After eating, everybody sat around. We were having constant meetings, deciding what to do, what not to do. Worrying about what had happened and what was going to happen. How we were going to last out in this place now that the university management had cut down our numbers and drastically reduced any kind of freedom we might have otherwise had.

We had arranged ourselves into teams; we had a group of journalists on two laptops which had come in with us. They were busying typing away or on their mobile phones. In fact, quite a few people were on their mobiles, marshalling support from the outside for a protest the next day. We’d also discovered a lucky landline which wasn’t disconnected until the next morning when the university wised up.

By the next morning, the police had disappeared. We also got the bathroom facility – the nicer security guards at first and then an unfriendly woman representative from the Vice Chancellor’s office finally let us have it officially. It was a strange experience to go up the two floors to the men’s bathroom with three or four security guards watching and memorising our facial features for future reference. Some of them were deliberately polite. Some of them were deliberately strict. Some of them just stared blankly into space, bored out of their minds.

We had to keep ourselves going although we were all tired – I doubt anyone got a good night’s sleep – so we started making a protest at the door with plastic bins as drums and plastic bottles as beaters. We chanted the lines from the day before: They say cut back, we say fight back. They made quite a bit of noise. Security and the university management were still bothering us every so often and quite a few groups of students were leaving as they had other commitments.

The Deputy VC came late to the meeting we had arranged the day before and brought us back a really unsatisfactory reply from the Vice Chancellor to our demands. She spoke in that double-speak the Vice Chancellor had perfected.

I was quite bored so I went around the office on a hunt for something to do. I sent out emails to everyone I knew about the occupation, including a journalist for The Guardian that I knew. He put up the news on his Twitter page. One of the media students sent me an email asking us if we could do a television interview while the protest was happening outside.

Next morning, after no sleep again, we beat on our bin drums with our plastic bottles and chanted our slogans at the door. The Deputy VC from the Vice Chancellor’s office came back with some representatives from the Student’s Union.

They wouldn’t accept our conditions and the woman gave us more of her double-speak from the Vice Chancellor. Outside, some of my lecturers were standing around to see what we were up to.

After a final meeting, we left the occupation. We left a note saying that we would come back soon. And then we walked down to UCL to carry the torch of learning to their protest with our banners held up high."

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Where's the logic? Part 1..

Up until now this blog has been informative on a basic cuts-facts-information level, but let's take a deeper peek into the perplexing actualities of some of these cuts, past, present and future, over a few blog entries.

Ugly cuts are not a sudden manifestation in Westminster, in fact, they've been appearing in some of the most 'logically' unlikely departments for a while. For example, media heads at Harrow Campus would have noticed an almost-sudden, almost-demise of technical staff in the film technology/ editing department (not because there isn't oodles of demand for assistance).

Whereas five members of staff used to provide four hours of technical support for all students every working day, today sees an unfavourable scenario of only two members of staff providing help over two days for considerably less hours.

Not only is this unacceptable and a pain in the ass for the technologically-incompetent film student (Putting my hand up for that one!) but it forces the two staff - who teach classes and study for PhDs too - into an overabundance of work, maxing out their productibilities to a worrying extent (I've had the liberty of seeing one of the crammed timetables). I don't know whether you agree, but the last thing I want is my tutors to be tired, stressed and overworked; no one works to the best of their abilities in those states of mind.

This bizarre restructuring came about last July, when corporate services were reorganised. The five staff, who were originally hired by the IT department, were set to be sent to Cavendish Campus, incredibly, leaving none behind at Harrow. Not only this, but management were also planning to clear Harrow of all Macs, yes, you read that correctly! How ludicrous a decision considering Harrow is a media and arts campus which relies on quality editing software/equipment that simply doesn't run smoothly on PCs, if at all.

The two staff (who are still based at Harrow and were re-hired by the Media, Arts and Design department MAD) vehemently and outwardly opposed the Mac slash and were so kindly fired in return. Quite disgustingly, the other support staff, who agreed to the Mac massacre, were sent over to Cavendish and rewarded with management positions.

Just one of the many examples and a severe reminder of corrupt, bureaucratic backwardness at our university.

Luckily, MAD re-hired the two staff, and rightly so as they are both incredible teachers that deserve a secure job at the least.

What's more, on a university macro-level this example displays what the UCU declared at a meeting a little while back; a growing bulk of management and a dwindling, flimsy number of tutors left to do the 'teaching'.

I ask you; where's the logic?

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Back with a vengeance

So, maybe we were a little too early in our 'Geoff Petts' Leaving Party' celebrations folks, but don't despair!

After a swift breather (taken in the VC's humble residence) the Fight Cuts Campaign at Westminster is back and ready to wage all out war on campuses near you.

In the last week or so the cuts picture has slowly taken shape and is looking more depressing than ever. As it stands we are loosing the entire Ceramics department, over a third of Computing, a fraction of the English department and a mass chunk of the Language's school.

Extrapolating this formidable trend inevitably leads to the question of which courses are next? For it is a certainty that these cuts form only the beginning of a flurry of course extinctions and slashes.

At the Student's Forum last Friday, our good friend Geoff Petts revealed to Students' Union representatives that these cuts are most likely to play part of a national uprooting of HE structures, in accordance with the government's 'vision' for the future of education.

Quite concerningly universities, colleges and secondary schools alike will be encouraged to focus on specialist areas. So, for Westminster this means degrees will be based within the 'applied approach' realm; basically vocational courses.

What this implies for the future of education is tragic and disgustingly unjust. Academic, 'blue sky' courses, will only be available at elite establishments. This will no doubt further the class inequality gap and hinder many students from reaching their potentials, or at least cease in providing them with a chance to fulfil them.

This is why we call for all students to stand in solidarity with their lecturers over the following months, to fight alongside them for their right to work and for our right to a better education; one in which future generations will not be boxed into specific academic routes.

Freedom for all avenues of education is what we demand, and we will not stop our struggle until we achieve it.

Join the rally next Wednesday, March 17, Marylebone Campus, which kicks off the staff balloting period. Together we are stronger!


The anti-cuts campaign/protest/lobby of governors/occupation was supported massively from students and university staff across the continent.

Here is some of the news generated: Indymedia, Libcom, The Journal, Socialist Worker, Revolution, Education Not For Sale, CNNireport

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Message of support from UCU

The University and Colleges Union (UCU) at Westminster has officially acknowledged the student occupation and has further outwardly condemned management of the university for creating the circumstances in which students are forced to take direct action to defend tutor's jobs.

They have applauded the campaigners for standing united with themselves and Unison and have vowed to support both staff and students if they are victimised in any way for their involvement in the pursiut to defend jobs and education at the University of Westminster.

The Fight Cuts Campaign thoroughly encourages lectures and support staff to consider industrial action to defend jobs and education!

The first occupation is over, but, the struggle continues ..

Earlier this year, management at the University of Westminster announced their intentions of making over 250 cuts to staff jobs; they claimed cuts were being pushed through by the University's Court of Governors. In response ,over 200 students stormed a meeting of the Court of Governors on the March, 1, before occupying the Vice-Chancellor's office.

For 3 days and 2 nights, students had full control of the main management and administration rooms at Regent Street Campus. The aim was not to disrupt the education of other students, but rather to disrupt management's strategy of running this university as a business with no regard for the welfare of staff and students.

We stand in solidarity with all staff and students at this and other universities who are taking action against job cuts.

Our demands are clear - we call on management to :

1. Place a moratorium on all job cuts pending a financial review and issue a statement on the avoidance of all compulsory redundancies.

2.Make freely available to the trade unions ( UCU and UNISON), the Students Union, and the Fight cuts campaign all appropriate financial documents pertaining to the university's finances.

3. Produce alternative, sustainable plans for addressing the university's financial deficit, over the next several years.

4. Ensure that no student or member of staff involved in actions against job cuts faces any repercussions or reprisals

5. Arrange a public meeting, in agreement with all named parties, where the above will be announces and agreed.

Our occupation is only the start of a wider campaign against job cuts at the University of Westminster.

We demand a greater say for students and staff in how this university is run. We will occupy and reoccupy any part of this university until our demands are met!



Monday, 1 March 2010


Over 200 staff and students at the University of Westminster have protested, stormed the board of governors meeting and are currently in occupation, vice-chancellors office, in regard to recently proposed tutoring and administrative job cuts.

Management are planning to slash 285 jobs by April and this follows the closures of the ceramics department and the nursery. Recently, over 150 staff and students placed a unanimous vote of no confidence in the vice-chancellor and his management at a rally addressing Westminster's severe proposed job cuts, on February, 17.

The vice-chancellor has openly declared that job cuts are the initiative of the governors, not his. Well, demonstrators asked him for themselves, after storming past security and into the governor’s meeting. They were greeted by a board of governors who were ‘quaking in their boots;’ shortly after students persuaded Geoffrey Petts, the VC, to stick around and answer some questions which he hesitated to on the first instance but then proceed to do with a full bureaucratic and dismissive tone.

Our demands to the vice-chancellor are:

A) Issue a statement on the avoidance of redundancies

B) Make freely available to the unions in the university appropriate financial documents

C) Produce alternative, sustainable plans for addressing the financial gap over the next several years.

Join us, over 40 students are currently occupying at Regents Campus, V-C's office!

Many thanks to Sky Yarlett for the pics!


Tuesday, 23 February 2010


Finally, the chance for Westminster staff and students to air their voices en masse, in opposition to management's job cuts and course closures, is upon us.

Next Monday, March 1, 3pm at Regent Campus (main entrance) is set to see an unprecedeted mobilisation of tutors, support workers and students from Westminster and beyond holding the court of governors and vice-chancellor to account by performing a lobby of their conference.

The vice-chancellor has openly announced that job cuts are the initiative of the governors, not himself. Well, let's ask him for ourselves this Monday!

Why have we been forced to take action?

This protest comes upon a backdrop of course slashes, nursery closure and 200 tutor, administrative job cuts set for April this year.

This conglomeration of cuts will result in a dwindling qulaity of education with less tutors on the ground, and yet when extrapolating recent trends at the university, more managment on the top. What use is that to us?

We say NO .. do you?

Support staff and save the future of education at Westminster; bring banners, placards and noise!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

The Motion Passes ..

An unprecedented mass of over 60 students attended this year's Annual General Meeting, hosted by Westminster's Student Union (yes, I'm being sarcastic).

The meeting, held yesterday at Harrow Campus, was not a complete farce however and did give some speck of hope for happier days ahead. Albeit a minor one; did you know that our SU is one of a kind, it is the only SU in the country line managed by a member of university staff? Canny.

Unfortunately, a combination of a depoliticised student population and union members that have carelessly and seriously abused their positions has led our union down a vertiginous slope, and until yesterday it found itself in a state of 'frozen subvention.' I.E. The university had ceased funding the union.

The first motion put forth was by a union member and was passed; to combat the funding freeze, this motion included bringing external members from other institutions to sit on their board of trustees as well as other university staff on an 'interim' basis (which had been suggested by the university).

We did not advocate for this to be passed as it defeats the core values of a 'student's union' and further contributes to the bureaucratisation of the university.

However, as it did go through, this means the death of the SU is not nigh and all the better for the fight cuts campaign.

Simon Hardy, a member of the Fight Cuts at Westminster Campaign, put forth our motion which essentially asked the student union to formally recognise our campaign and to support the students and tutors in whatever action they may wish to take.

To our delight, it was a unanimous pass.

This now leaves us in a great position to persevere with the campaign; it also leaves us with an opportunity to work with our SU and help build it from the bottom up again, if possible.

Let's not let this one go - all students deserve the right to a union with their interests at heart.

The Motion ...

MOTION: Oppose cuts at The University of Westminster and in Higher Education

This Union notes:
* Massive cuts have been announced in the Higher Education (HE) sector. Recent estimates by UCU and the Russell Group predict that cuts in HE may add up to as much as £2.5bn - or 33% of total HE funding.
* Job cuts have also been announced at the University of Westminster. As part of a restructuring plan, 150 academic staff (not including technical and administrative staff) will be made redundant by April 2010. This follows the closures of the Ceramics department and of the nursery.

This union believes:
* Management has not been transparent in dealing with the financial problems currently facing the university.
* Management attempt to deal with the current financial problems is a shortsighted one.
* That these proposed cuts are only the beginning of a much wider programme of cuts.
* Students' experience at university will be severely compromised by these job cuts. Fewer staff means bigger class sizes, less time with tutors, and less time for staff to prepare seminars and lectures. This will worsen the level of satisfaction of students of Westminster University, which is already amongst the lowest in the country.
* Education is extremely important, particularly during an economic crisis. education represents one of the few viable alternatives for young people at a time of increasing unemployment. The government should invest in education as other countries are already doing (e.g. Germany, USA).

This union resolves:
* To defend jobs and education
* To actively oppose any cuts in this university and all funding cuts in the HE sector.
* To call on management to:
a) Issue a statement on the avoidance of redundancies;
b) make freely available to the unions in the university appropriate financial documents including accounts, planned project expenditure, and staff expenditure to enable a transparent review of the university's financial position;
c) produce alternative, sustainable plans for addressing the financial gap over the next several years.
* To officially support the "Fight cuts campaign at Westminster" and to actively promote it.
* To formally support the London Education Activists network and the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts.
* To promote the National demonstration on Saturday, March 20, organised by the UCU and London Education Activists Network.
* To support any industrial action taken by our lecturers and members of staff as a result of the cuts.
* A vote of no confidence in the vice-chancellor and management

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Unlucky: Outright Vote of No Confidence for Vice-Chancellor Geoff Petts

Over 150 staff and students placed a unanimous vote of no confidence in the vice-chancellor, and his management, at a rally addressing Westminster's severe proposed job cuts.

The meeting, which took place yesterday, saw encouraging and emotive speeches from Union representatives, one of whom revealed that the latest slashes are set at 190 academic and 90 administrative jobs.

A Unison representative clarified that up until a year ago finance papers showed that the university was operating at a surplus of over two per cent, therefore, she and others across the board claimed it suggests that management (who are not allowing public access to any finance details at the present moment) are simply using Mandleson's Higher Education cuts and their '11 million budget deficit' as a guise to fulfil an already planned agenda to slim down on staff and further marketise the establishment.

To place this in perspective it was later revealed that the university plans to spend 61 million on a new building project, ironic, seeing as there will be considerably fewer lecturers to fill it.

Furthermore, a representative from the University and Colleges Union (UCU) pinpointed to a study undertaken by the union which has disturbingly found that whilst academic positions have only risen by three per cent, managerial positions with an allocated wage of £100, 000, have risen by 25 per cent.

"This has attributed to a management clique, who live upstairs, and have no idea of what's going on on the ground," she declared.

This sentiment was shared across the board, a speaker and lecturer involved in the struggles at London Metropolitan University, riled staff and students alike by describing the process which led to their feat over the Vice-Chancellor and the board of governors; ballots, strikes and student occupations.

However, an ex National Secretary of the UCU gave some hope by urging staff to remember that there has not been a single voluntary redundancy at Westminster for 20 years, due to staff resistance.

Even so, a computing lecturer from the floor, for example, revealed that his department of 150 is set for a hammering of a third of the positions.

With this and other revelations, a sense of urgency swept the floor and led to an exciting dialogue of what to do next..

An immediate vote of no confidence for vice-chancellor Geoff Petts and his management was called for and achieved.

Striking was placed on the table, but this can prove to be a long and bureaucratic process, taking up to six weeks.

In the meantime, it is down to us students to support our tutors as much as we possibly can by taking any action necessary to stop management in their profiteering tracks. Not only are jobs at risk but the future of education as we know it is, we can't take this without a fight ... can we?

Monday, 15 February 2010

Students and Tutors Unite

A meeting, marking the next phase of Westminster's anti-cuts campaign, will be held this Wednesday.

The event, which is open to all students and education workers at the university will be taking place in Fyvie Hall, Regent Street Campus, at 1pm.

The main aim of the rally is to create a bubbling dialogue between students and lecturers, with reference to possible actions that can be taken to fight cuts and job losses.

Speakers, with experience in the field of education campaigning, include: student activists, University and College Union (UCU) representatives from Tower Hamlets, Unison and the Student's Union at Westminster.

It is imperative that as many students as possible support our tutors by attending this event; the campaign stems from us!

Saturday, 6 February 2010

National Convention Against Fees and Cuts

Students, education workers and activists from across the country gathered on Saturday with the aim of stepping anti education cuts campaigns, on a national level, up a gear.

The National Convention Against Fees & Cuts, which was held at University College London, saw over 100 partakers grapple with the pressing matters facing students and eductaion wokers over a day of workshops designed to tackle and question the future of education and the imminent cuts of up to £3 billion.

The event which was hosted by UCL Students for Free Education, with a presence from anti-capitalist education oragisations such as Education Not for Sale and Another Education is Possible, succeeded in its aim of 'a concrete result' in the closing plenary session, in the form of a democratically designed manifesto. (Which will be posted as soon as available)

Other structural decisions were voted into place too which will see regional caucuses take place on a two-weekly or monthly basis, with the aim of broadening and strengthening individal campus cuts campigns and seeking to build an overall coherent, national resistance.

A national student demonstration has been set for March, 20.

The day saw students get involved from across the board, from FE to HE, and even across the ocean with a special attendance from Austrian students.

It is without doubt a sign of a stronger movement ahead ...

Future anti-cuts events include: Take Back Education at King's College London, Feb, 27.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Why Campaign?

In December the government announced plans to make cuts of up to 33% in higher education funding, amounting to some £3 billion. This comes alongside talk of staff redundancies, course closures, and £30,000 tutition fees for students.

Taking this lead, management at the University of Westminster have already proposed deep cuts of up to 285 jobs by July. This a short-sighted attempt to deal with the financial problems currently facing the university

What does this mean for staff?

For those who remain, the cuts will mean increased workloads to cover the work of those who have gone. Academic staff will face larger class sizes and less administrative and technical support, with these staff facing longer hours and increased stress.

What does this mean for students?

Students will undoubtedly have a worse experience with increased class sizes, stressed lecturers and even less time with their tutors.

According to National Student Survey, the University of Westminster currently has one of the worst student satisfaction rates in the country. Cuts will only deepen this dissatisfaction.

Management are telling staff to tighten their belts, while their average salary has risen to £193, 000!

They are not interested in listening to staff and students! WE NEED TO BE UNITED AND ORGANISED IF WE WANT OUR VOICE TO BE HEARD!!