1. Joint open statement by the LSE Students’ Union, University and College Union (UCU), and Howard Davies (Director of the LSE) against the cuts, fees, and the attack on the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).
2. No victimisation of Students or Lecturers involved in the occupation or any protests against the cuts.
Public Statement from the Occupiers of the Vera Anstey Suite, London School of Economics:
We, the occupiers of the Vera Anstey Suite, have been dismayed by the Directorate of the LSE’s failure to speak out against the coalition’s proposals to cut funding for further and higher education and raise tuition fees. We believe that this inaction is betraying both LSE’s staff and students and the founders of the school, who were committed to the pursuit of knowledge and to making this pursuit universally accessible. As the school’s own website states, the founders envisioned an institution dedicated to the betterment of society through the creation of social equality. The LSE prides – and promotes – itself on a history of progressive engagement with social policy. As Ralf Dahrendorf, former director of the school, describes in his history of LSE, “One of the distinguishing marks of LSE was (…) that it never remained silent.” (1995: viii). Yet in the current debate surrounding the future of higher education in this country, the silence from LSE has been deafening.
The proposed cuts to education and increase in tuition fees will make education less accessible. Education should be universally available by right and not according to privilege. We believe that its core aim should be to enable the critical, creative and independent thinking that is essential for any healthy democracy. Since the mid-1980s we have witnessed a marketisation of higher education that has steadily taken us away from this conception of education. We believe that commodification privileges an assessment of disciplines on the basis of profitability and students on the basis of employability. As members of a social sciences institution we are particularly outraged that these cuts aggressively discriminate against the arts, humanities and social sciences, showing an unacceptable disregard for these disciplines’ immense contribution to society. We strongly oppose this ideological attack on education, which is part of a wider assault on our public services and all those who use them and work in them.
It has been claimed that our opposition is based on a misapprehension of what these reforms mean. We reject this patronising claim. David Cameron and Nick Clegg argue that by not paying fees up front, education will become more accessible to people from low- and middle-income backgrounds. But by cutting the teaching budget and transferring financial responsibility onto the shoulders of individuals, the coalition’s proposals will gravely constrain opportunities and lock graduates into a life of debt. As many school and college students have already made clear, this acts as a disincentive to pursuing higher education. Far from promoting social mobility, the proposals will further entrench existing patterns of exclusion, particularly across lines of class, gender and ethnicity. We urge MPs of all parties, hundreds of whom signed personal pledges to vote against any rise in tuition fees, to oppose these regressive proposals.
We have been galvanised by the many messages of support that we have received from individuals and students’ collectives, trade unions and other groups across the world. We stand in solidarity with all those who are facing attacks on their capacity to realise lives of dignity, fulfillment and possibility. We reject the claim that cuts are inevitable. We urge everyone: workers and the unemployed, young people and the elderly, to stand with students and fight against these cuts. We demand the right to create alternative futures.