Movement, United Kingdom

Protests against educational cuts

Following the continued large-scale protests in London during November and December 2010 in light of the coalition government’s proposal to triple university tuition fees and to cut financial aid to poorer students, student and trade union bodies will once again take to the streets in an attempt to ensure these measures are not put into practice.

Crunch time for education in the United Kingdom is drawing ever nearer in light of the imminent 11 January vote on the scrapping of the EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) subsidy, a government aid sum of between £10 and £30 a week aimed at helping students from low-income families (those earning less than £30,000 annually) purchase learning materials and pay for travel costs – effectively, so they are able to continue pursuing their studies.

The EMA subsidy is wired directly to the student’s bank account in order to provide him or her with a certain degree of independence, making him or her responsible for the management of a small weekly budget. In order to receive these payments, the student must attend classes regularly, and high-achieving students may even be rewarded with larger sums in order to progress even further with their studies.

An additional allowance is available for those students from families with an annual income of less than £20,000. The EMA is currently accessible throughout the United Kingdom, although the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly are in charge of their own respective administrations of the subsidy.

This issue has been one of the most central in the recent anti-cuts protests and its importance is set to continue undiminished in the coming weeks. Correspondingly, with an eye to the coming vote in British Parliament, an activist group comprised of members working in the education sector and formed in February 2010 to combat the educational budgetary proposals put forward by the coalition government, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC), has organised various events as platforms to denounce the proposed scrapping of the EMA amid its calls for a free education for all.

The date earmarked for nationwide demonstrations is 26th January while for London it is the 29th of the same month.

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(Translated by Viral Kantaria –

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