A demonstration against cuts to maintenance grants will take place in London on 4 November. Among the protesters will be representatives of Newcastle University Students’ Union, including Welfare Officer Luke Allison and Gender Equality Officer Lucy Morgan.
“I am attending this demonstration because free education, like everything else, is a feminist issue,” Lucy Morgan said. “Although students will not be given bigger or smaller loans depending on their gender, the fact is that after graduation, women are more likely to accumulate greater debts as they pay off their loans. As the loans take longer to pay off, they will also increase in interest making it even harder for women to ensure financial stability.
“This has wider implications for [Black, Asian and minority ethnic] women who are more likely to be paid less than white women and therefore bear the brunt of the fees and cuts even more.”
The protest not only opposes the scrapping of maintenance grants, it also supports free education. Newcastle Students Union will provide transport for £10 and there are fifty places available to book online.
“The cut in maintenance grants will not only have an effect on future students at university but also those already at university,” said Ruairi Walker, the President of Newcastle University’s Labour Students Society.
“With some people completing two years of uni relying on grants only for their only support to be removed coming into the final, most important year of their life is disgusting – making a year which is hard in terms of stimulus hard physically and mentally.
“The only way to counter policies which are unfair and unjust is for people to come together and actually try and make a difference, make a point. This is what this demonstration is and this could help act as a catalyst to encourage people who might feel university is too expensive. If students from as far as Newcastle are willing to go to London for the demonstration, it might kick-start a bigger, more effective campaign.”
The National Union of Students found out that more than a third of students would have been discouraged from pursuing higher education if they were not entitled to a maintenance grant.
This demonstration might be a first taste of political activism for some, for others it’s a part of an ongoing fight.