Students at the University of Nottingham took part in a co-ordinated day of action on Wednesday against the planned privatisation of student loans.
The government has planned to implement policies to make the student loan book more profitable. A secret report, written by Rothschild Bank on the government’s behalf, outlines proposals to retrospectively lift the cap on the interest rates of student loan repayments or even abolish it all together.
In response to this ‘The Student Assembly against Austerity’, along with political activists at universities organised events and demonstrations on campuses across the UK to show their opposition to this measure.
In terms of local action, University of Nottingham activists dropped a banner inside Portland Building and petitioned students across campus.
However, students were requested to remove the banner immediately by the UoN Estates team, who cited it as being a possible fire hazard. Those gathering petition signatures were also asked whether they had permission to do so, despite never having issues previously.
University of Nottingham (UoN) Greens’ Duncan Davis, who organised the event, detailed how the privatisation of the student loan book must be seen as a violation of the student loan contract. He told Impact: “Student debt being sold off to profit making companies will lead to higher interest rates for students paying back loans. We felt the need to protest because the NUS have sat back and taken no action. David Willets has assured students that their fear of privatisation is unfounded. We do not agree. Not many people know about this issue, and we’re trying to inform as many people as possible.”
Student Lily Wilkins commented how student loan privatisation may further dissuade future students from applying to university.
”One of the UK’s greatest traditions is allowing all people to attend university, regardless of social background or financial restraints. You only have to look at the systems in other countries where the rich go to university and the poor do not to see that any retrospective hike in tuition fees would be severely off-putting.”
The Day of Action is the start of what some UK student activists hope, will be the building of a mass movement in the university sector; to defend what they see as the decimation of higher education.