I am, rather belatedly, signing the UCL Occupation petition. Here’s what I had to say:
I was fortunate enough to receive a free university eduction — one of the last generation to have this opportunity — and condemn the assault which both the previous Labour government and now, with redoubled zeal, the coalition are making on the notion of education as a public good.
As a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, I helped organise a rent strike in protest at the colleges’ proposal to impose sharp increases in the cost of living at the university. We believed that this would have a be a major disincentive for students from poorer backgrounds to come to a university whose social mix was already fairly unrepresentative. We little knew that higher rents were only the first in a series of measures that would make going to university a major financial commitment.
I also have a personal connection to UCL: I worked here for three years after graduating, and have seen the quality of teaching there, as well as the commitment of lecturers, administrators and students alike. It is a fine institution, and must ensure it remains that way by standing up for fairness, openness, and access for the best students, no matter what their background and means.
Good luck to all involved in the occupation, and let’s build on this movement to create a fairer education system, and a fairer society at large.
Click here to sign the petition.