The protest is being organised by members of the Young Green Party, and will take place outside the campus’ ‘Essentials’ shop, before marching to outside the Registry building where the Vice Chancellors’ Office is located.
An open debate on the funding of higher education is planned for after the march and all are welcome to attend.
Catherine Peckham, Chair of the Canterbury and UKC Young Green group and co-organiser of the event, said “I strongly believe in the right to free education. The actions of the police in reaction to a peaceful protest by students were unacceptable. Police repression, used to suppress forms of dissent, has no place on a university campus and we want to hold this protest today to show our solidarity with the students who were protesting.”
Last week students at the University of Warwick were peacefully demonstrating on campus when the local police force intervened, allegedly using tasers and CS spray to disperse the peaceful crowd who were in occupation on their campus.
“We are standing in solidarity with those affected and we condone such strong force on a peaceful protest” said Dave Cocozza, co-organiser of the demonstration and Mature Students’ Officer for Kent Union, the Students’ Union at the University of Kent.
“Our education system is coming under attack from cuts, increased tuition fees and a new post-graduate loans system which is deeply unfair to mature students. Large corporations like Starbucks, Amazon, and Google avoid paying their taxes which amounts to billions of lost revenue which could be used to fund a sustainable higher education system, as well as supporting a publicly-owned NHS. Why should the future leaders in the UK be subject to paying the full price for their tax dodging?”
Support for the demo has included Stuart Jeffery, Green Party PPC for Canterbury and Whitstable, who said “There is emerging evidence that the tuition fees have reduced access to university education for young people from less well-off backgrounds. This assault on the less well-off has been a key theme of this government. We believe that we should support people through education and that tuition fees should be scrapped immediately. Further, the right to protest must be upheld, people must not be denied a voice.”
The protest is part of a wider effort to scrap tuition fees and lobby the government for a fully funded higher education system that is not subject to government cuts. In November the National Union of Students (NUS) launched its “Roadmap to Free Education”, which sets out a case for publicly funded education system and why it is not only achievable, but absolutely necessary in the current economic and political climate.
Action groups including the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC), Student Assembly Against Austerity and Young Greens marched in London at a national demo for free education attended by around 10,000 people. Campus protests have been happening UK-wide in support of the movement, of which Kent is part of.
Students have similarly undertaken action on the campus in 2010, when the Vice-Chancellor of the University signed a published letter endorsing a rise in tuition fees. The occupation of the Senate building was the longest UK occupation on a university campus at the time and lasted over the Christmas period.
“The University have been informed of our intentions to demonstrate, and we are calling upon UCU, Unison and Unite, as well as the action groups such as NCAFC to show their support in solidarity with us” said Catherine and Dave.
For more information, please go to the Facebook event for the protest: https://www.facebook.com/events/1511634882454556/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular