I’ll be live blogging the events over the next day or two, leading up to the vote and protests against a rise in student tuition fees. This page will update automatically, no need to refresh.
20:56 8th December 2010
Newsnight’s political Editor Michael Crick has blogged about some very anxious Tory whips, despite it looking like the Government will have a comfortable majority on tomorrow’s vote.
I went to see David Willetts about one or two minor reservations I have, and the whips were all round me like flies. I couldn’t believe it, and I support the policy.
18:53 8th December 2010
Channel 4 News’ FactCheck blog has been checking out Ed Miliband’s claim at Prime Minister’s Questions that the proposed limit of £9,000 a year tuition fees would make them the highest fees of publicly funded universities in the world.
16:41 8th December 2010
Downing Street have released the text of David Cameron’s speech to the CentreForum thinktank earlier today on the future of education:
Today I want to talk about the future of universities in this country. We’ve seen the protests. We’ve seen the marches. We’ve seen how passionate many of our students are about this issue. Well let me tell you this. I am just as passionate.
16:22 8th December 2010
Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives Andrew George has announced he will be voting against the rise in tuition fees. Cathy Newman over at Channel 4 News has managed to canvas 49 of 57 Lib Dem MPs and at the moment it doesn’t look like there’s a substancial enough rebellion to stop the rise going through.
14:29 8th December 2010
Acland Burghley has become the second school to go into occupation today. In a statement on the school’s website, headmaster Jo Armitage said:
An occupation of the school is planned in protest against university tuition fees. As this has been widely publicised it is likely to attract large numbers of students and the general public and I cannot ensure students’ safety in school.
Adding that year 10, 11 and sixth form students would be allowed to leave at lunchtime, whilst years 7, 8 and 9 would only be allowed to leave early with their parents permission.
14:19 8th December 2010
Sky News is reporting that all Government ministers currently abroad are returning to the UK for tomorrow’s tuition fee vote.
13:20 8th December 2010
A brief lunchtime summary of events so far today:
- There are (so far unconfirmed) reports Education minister Sarah Teather’s constituency office in Brent has been occupied
- The Conservatives have launched a Facts On Fees microsite that aims to dispel 10 myths about the proposed changes to tuition fees.
- William Cullerne Bown has already gone through the 10 facts and rebutted them.
- Camden School for Girls has become the first school to go into occupation.
- There are reports that a lecture theatre at Exeter university has been occupied as well as the Theatre building in Glasgow.
- Following from the beginning of their occupation last night, RCA students have announced they will be occupying the galleries of the Darwin building.
- SOAS are having teach-out lectures across London today, culminating in a ‘Massive Symbolic Lecture’ in Euston Station at 5pm.
- The Socialist Worker is reporting that Islington College has closed to pre-empt a planned occupation there today.
- Birkbeck students have occupied the Council room and are planning to hold it for 24hrs.
- Vince Cable has given some concessions on the proposed rises, presumably to placate some of the Lib Dem backbenchers.
12:46 8th December 2010
The Conservatives have just launched a microsite inviting people to “Ignore the myths. Find out the real truth about tuition fees” – FactsOnFees.com
12:09 8th December 2010
After that very hostile interview on 5 Live, Lib Dem Education minister Sarah Tether isn’t getting it any easier. Sky News doorstepped her this morning to ask why she would be voting for the fees increase, despite calling it an issue ‘dear to her heart’ in her maiden speech to the commons in 2003.
Tuition Fees: Lib Dem Refuses To Speak – Sky News
11:33 8th December 2010
Victoria Derbyshire reading out some emails and tweets from listeners to Nick now:
“I will never vote for any Liberal Democrat ever again. How do you know if a Lib Dem is lying? When his lips move.”
“How can we trust Nick Clegg ever again?”
“When was the point you became a Tory?”
11:27 8th December 2010
A very cutting question from a listener “How can I trust any future pledge the Lib Dems make?” Clegg responding with his ‘We didn’t win the election out right, to govern is to choose’ line.
11:25 8th December 2010
Responding to a 17 year old student who says she’s thinking about going to university to study languages and possibly go on to teach Nick Clegg says that they estimate 60% of graduates will never pay back the full cost of their degree.
11:08 8th December 2010
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is on Radio 5 Live at the moment defending the rise to tuition fees. If you live in the UK you can listen to it live online.
11:04 8th December 2010
18 university vice-chancellors have written a letter in today’s Telegraph urging MPs to vote in favor of the rise in tuition fees, they warn that otherwise there will be a reduction in student numbers “that would be enormously damaging to social mobility”
SIR – On Thursday, Parliament will vote on the future of higher education funding in England. We, as board members of Universities UK, have consistently opposed the disproportionate cuts to higher education funding in the spending review. However, given those cuts, we believe that the Government’s proposals for university funding are reasonable and retain fundamentally important progressive elements.
In particular, no student will have to pay any tuition fees while still a student; it will be graduates who repay and only when they earn over £21,000. There will be significantly improved financial support for part-time students, funding will follow the student – enhancing student choice – and there will be improved support for poorer students.
If the vote on Thursday fails, the alternative is likely to be a reduction in student numbers that would be enormously damaging to social mobility and would seriously hamper Britain’s ability to adapt to the economic needs of the future. We urge MPs and peers to support the Government’s proposals.
10:51 8th December 2010
The NUS website has a long list of all the actions they’re planning nationwide over the next two days in the run up to the commons vote:
The vote rests on a knife-edge and in the next few days students will be taking part in a variety of peaceful protests and demonstrations to demonstrate to their MPs the levels of opposition to the plans.
The current planned actions include:
Wednesday 8 December 2010
NUS has called a national day of action around the country helping students’ unions to organise peaceful actions in towns and cities nationwide.
City centre protest
Mass Christmas card and letter writing session. Students will march to the sorting office from 12pm – 2.30pm to deliver their letters
Candlelit procession through the city centre, Bristol University SU, Queens Road to College Green – 3pm to 5pm
Walk out at 11am, congregating at University Square, followed by a demonstration in city centre
March from Peter Chalk Centre to a rally in Bedford Square – 11am to 2pm
March from Albert Road, Pittville Campus to Montpelier Gardens 11.30am – 12.30pm
Kings College London SU – Animal fancy dress tube petition gathering – 9.30am – 8.30pm
NUS Women’s Campaign suffragette and suffragist protest outside Lynne Featherstone Equalities Minister’s Office – 11am – 1pm
Royal College of the Arts march from RCA to Downing Street with letter to Nick Clegg – 1.30pm
Candlelit vigil Jigsaw Garden – 12.30pm
‘Unfair Fun Fair’ at Western Bank followed by march to Sheffield Town Hall – 12pm – 1pm
Demonstration on Stafford campus Ember Lounge – 1pm
Sit up- all night political debates and discussion – 7pm to 7am
Mass demonstration outside City Hall – 12pm
Protest meeting outside SU marching to University House – 12pm
More actions will be added to this list as details become available. .
Thursday 9 December 2010
Lobby of Parliament – 1pm-3pm
Students from around the country are arranging to meet their MPs at Parliament to voice their opposition to the government’s plans. For details of MPs who have agreed to meetings and to arrange interview with lobbyists contact NUS press office.
NUS/UCU Rally on Victoria Embankment – 1pm-3pm
An estimated 10,000 protesters will be gathering on Victoria Embankment to hear speeches from student representatives and representatives of all major trade unions. The rally will include a ‘candlelit’ vigil around the time of the parliamentary vote.
The rally is due to be joined by a protest march that will have gone through central London.
10:46 8th December 2010
The Guardian is reporting that Vince Cable has just added some sweeteners to the proposed rise in tuition fees. Firstly the amount that graduates have to earn before they start paying back will rise every year in line with inflation, instead of every five years as was originally proposed. Secondly part-time students will be able to get a loan if they are studying for 25% of the time that a full-time course would take, this is reduced from 33% that was proposed previously.
10:37 8th December 2010
Whilst Camden School for girls is having a teach-in, SOAS are having holding a teach-out sessions around London.
9-11am: St.Pancras International Station, in front of Pain Quotidien – Trevor Marchant is holding his lecture on The importance of Vocational Education and Craft Training in Africa and the Middle East.
10-11am: Meet on SOAS steps for a lecture by Laleh Khalili in the British Museum.Followed at 11am by a lecture by Whitney Cox about “Why should anyone study Sanskrit?” highlighting the importance of one of our courses that might be cut next year… again, in the British Museum!
11-12pm: Meet at SOAS steps for a lecture by Stephen Chan in the Brunswick Centre
12.30pm: Meet outside Birkbeck for mass school-sweep around Bloomsbury area. Organised by UCL & UCU. Come and make some noise!
1.30-2.30pm: Meet on SOAS steps for a lecture by Phil Clark “African Transitions: Why Democracy Means More than Internationally Sanctioned Elections” in Russel Square Tube Station.
2.30pm: meet on SOAS steps for a lecture by Polly Pallister-Wilkins and Giovanni Cozzi in a bank branch near Russel Square (tba)!
3pm: Meet on SOAS steps to take over tube carriages for mini-lectures and shout-outs about the state of Higher Education!
4.30pm: Meet on SOAS steps to go to Euston Station for the MASSIVE SYMBOLIC LECTURE by all and for all, for free and universal education. We will be joined by UCL, LSE, and Kings Students for this one.
5pm: Massive Symbolic Lecture At Euston Station!
20:00 7th December 2010
To start things off, a brief roundup of what’s already happened so far today.
- The Liberal Democrats have announced that all 20 of their ministers will vote for the fees increase on Thursday.
- Aaron Porter, President of the NUS, has said that all Labour, SNP, Plaid, DUP, SDLP and Green MPs will vote against the increase.
- David Davies has said he will vote against the proposed rise, along with two other Conservative MPs Lee Scott and Andrew Percy.
That means that to defeat the proposal, 34 of the remaining 37 Lib Dem MPs would all have to vote against, not just abstain, which looks unlikely at the moment.