Student activists blockaded the entrance to the University of Bath earlier today (3rd December) in conjunction with the recent demonstrations against tuition fees. The protest, which was organised by Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts, was part of a series of demonstrations being held at universities across the country in support of Free Education.
Today’s events saw a small group of students in David Cameron masks carrying a £9000 toll booth sign as students and staff arrived on campus at 8:30 this morning. The protesters were them forced away by the police. This action was organised by a coalition of University of Bath and Bath Spa University students, with blockades occurring on both campuses. The blockade at Bath Spa grinded to a halt after an attempt to ‘run over’ the group, according to some of the students involved, with the protesters moving away from the University’s entrance for safety reasons.
Katy Boyce, a University of Bath student involved in the protest, told bathimpact, “We believe that education is a right and not a privilege. It is a public good that benefits all of society and not just the students. If we don’t act or carry out protests such as those we did today, then the privatisation of our education system will continue.
We want the universities as well as politicians to know that tuition fees are unacceptable and education is a serious issue that needs to be taken seriously and we believe that neo-liberalism should have no part in that. All of the people participating in the action today were students in Bath.”
On the blockade, Miss Boyce said “A lot of people were very supportive of the message though but not 100% supportive of their day being disrupted, but that’s understandable I think. I also think that we have no other means of getting our views heard because politicians don’t listen or they make empty promises or just blatant lies.”
A University of Bath spokesperson said: “A handful of protestors gathered at the main entrance of the University campus off Claverton Down Road at about 8.30am to attempt to hand out leaflets to staff and students arriving on campus calling for ‘free education’ as part of a national campaign.
“Neither the University or the Students’ Union had been notified of this demonstration in advance.
“University security and the police both attended and it became apparent that the protestors were in fact not University of Bath students but members of the public [and students from Bath Spa University]. The protest did cause some initial traffic congestion but the group had dispersed peacefully by 9.45am.”
This day of action comes in advance of a planned student demonstration for Free Education starting at Bath Abbey this Saturday, coinciding with other protests around the UK.
But not everyone was convinced by these protestations. George Watson, a student at the University of Bath caught up in the traffic, told bathimpact, “If they don’t want to pay £9,000, don’t go to University. Or do go, become a hippy and you won’t have to pay it back.”