Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cuts - do it French style?

Tomorrow's a big day for anyone working for South London's biggest employers - Councils, NHS, Colleges and other public services - as the government announces the scale of its spending cuts. With the Tories already predicting a loss of 450,000 public sector jobs, and other predicting up to 750,000 will go, things are going to get very tough indeed. Never mind they say, the private sector's going to create jobs to replace them - yeah right, maybe we can all flip burgers instead. Actually the burger flippers and coffee makers are also going to be in trouble, with all those cash strapped public sector workers and unemployed counting their pennies.

As just one example, here's an analysis of the potential impact on Goldsmiths in New Cross 0f the proposals put forward in the Browne Report on the funding of higher education:

'On Tuesday the Browne report came out, recommending removing the cap on tuition fees. This was followed by an email from the Senior Management Team (SMT) predicting Goldsmiths would lose £15m per year from its teaching budget for the next few years.

The level of projected cuts which could result from the implementation of the Browne report is unlike the scale of what any of us have ever faced. What would a 20% cut would do to our jobs, courses, libraries, facilities, support services?

Also, what would happen if students were expected to pay £7,000 a year, or possibly more, in fees? This would result in England having the the most expensive public degrees in the world, with families having to shell out between £76,000 and 136,000 to put two children through university.

If there is an open market in fees, this will create a 2-tier university system, with the most well-resourced universities charging the highest fees, and the most under-resourced universities charging the lowest. This would drastically exacerbate inequality in education.

The report also proposes to create a market in student places which it suggests will facilitate a large reduction in public funding which 'may be equivalent to removing all funding from anything other than priority subjects'. Goldsmiths, because it focuses on arts, humanities and social sciences, will be particularly vulnerable. Because of this, it is especially important that we rise to the challenge.

The scale of the cuts will require a response that is immediate, powerful, united and effective. We need to combine all our educational, campaigning and mobilizing skills to make the strongest possible protest to government. We urge everyone to attend the demonstration on the 10th of November . We also encourage you to participate in other anti-cuts actions, including: the march at 4:30pm on the 20th of October at Lincolns Inn Fields (http://bit.ly/bAtDmc); the Lewisham Anti Cuts Alliance public meeting at Goldsmiths, at 7PM, also the 20th of October, and the SERTUC march on the 23rd of October (assemble 11AM Chalton Street)

SMT have a responsibility to join our campaign to defend education. We call on them to not accept the Coalition Government's argument that there is no alternative, or the cuts for which they have no mandate. We also call on them to defend Goldsmiths' unique character as an institution that both supports cutting edge research and also has a strong widening participation agenda. We ask them to support our campaign against education cuts and to put pressure on politicians, particularly Liberal
Democrats, to stick to their pre-election pledge.

(Joint statement from student and staff unions - Goldsmiths Students' Union, Goldsmiths UCU and Goldsmiths Unison - thanks to
Another Green World)

No doubt about how far the Tories want to go in using the financial crisis as an opportunity to implement long-cherished plans to decimate the public sector - the question is how far they will get away with it. Maybe we should take some lessons from France and not wait until it's too late to make a fuss.

Goldsmiths students will be meeting outside the the university library at 3.30pm tomorrow and then making their way to the anti-cuts rally in Whitehall, scheduled to start at 6 pm. No doubt many South London public sector workers will also be heading down to Downing Street tomorrow night.


Anonymous said...

Ladywell voters can vote for Helen Mercer (Lewisham People before Profit) in the by-election next month for an anti-cuts agenda.

Anonymous said...

Hate Tories