Speaking at the BETT show for educational technology in...
- Education Professionals
Mass student protests in London
Demo 2012, organised by the National Union of Students will call for investment in education and employment, and to protest at the "shutting down" of opportunities for the next generation.
It will be the first national protest organised by the NUS since more than 50,000 people, including many lecturers, took part in a demonstration two years ago, which was marred by violent clashes with police leading to a number of arrests and injuries as well as complaints from students who were "kettled" outside parliament.
Organisers expect at least 10,000 demonstrators to gather near the Embankment, on the north side of the Thames on Wednesday (21st November) morning, before a march past Parliament Square towards Kennington Park south of the river for a rally.
The NUS president, Liam Burns, said the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, won the trust, and votes, of young people and their parents by signing the pledge, but had lost them "once and for all" by breaking it.
The NUS said young people were being left with a "sense of desperation" for their futures amid major changes to education and a tough job market. The prospect of leaving university thousands of pounds in debt and facing a scramble for graduate jobs was a major concern, the union warned.
Burns said there were strong feelings on campuses around the country about education reforms, the move to treble tuition fees, changes to financial support for students and youth unemployment.
Ministers' decision to scrap the education maintenance allowance (EMA) – a grant for the poorest teenagers to help them stay in school or college – has had the biggest impact, Burns said, while the final outcome of the decision to raise tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000 a year is not yet known.
The NUS warned the UK could be heading for an "epidemic of university dropouts", with a study showing that more than two in five had seriously considered leaving their course. Of these, almost half of undergraduates said money worries were a key factor in considering whether to drop out.