Students call on Boris to oppose grant cuts
Slashing maintenance ‘regressive and dangerous’
BRUNEL University students have called on Uxbridge MP Boris Johnson to join them in opposing cuts to their maintenance grants.
Crowds of students marched from the Union of Brunel Students, at the university’s Uxbridge Campus, to the town centre to demonstrate outside the Civic Centre.
The march was organised by Student Union president Ali Milani, who called the cuts to maintenance grants ‘extremely regressive and dangerous’.
He said: “It will hit the poorest students from the most vulnerable backgrounds.
“A third of students would have reconsidered going to university if the maintenance grants had not been in.”
In his budget, Chancellor George Osborne said the grants had become ‘unaffordable’.
Currently, students from families with annual incomes of £25,000 or less get the full grant of £3,387 a year.
More than half a million students in England receive a maintenance grant from the taxpayer, worth in total £1.57bn a year.
Speaking on the march, which took place on Friday, September 18, Mr Milani said: “There were lots more people than we expected.
“We were expecting a turnout of about 100 and we got about 170, not including members of the public who joined in once we got there.”
Mr Milani rallied the protesters with a speech explaining the crux of the issue, before trying to enter the Civic Centre to return a letter from the Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP, Boris Johnson.
The union president met with Boris at a surgery on August 7, only to be told in a letter afterwards: “I do not think [the cut] will deter students from poorer backgrounds from attending.”
Students were blocked from entering the council building, with security guards telling them they were a risk to health and safety.
Mr Milani said: “My hope was that Boris would see that this means a lot to us.
“The maintenance grants are very important to students from a low socio-economic background and we hoped he’d support the campaign and would reconsider the decision to scrap the grants.
“He’s someone that we know has political ambition and he’s someone who is a big celebrity as well as the local MP. That was our hope but he didn’t even allow us into the building.”
Mr Milani ripped up his letter from Boris Johnson at the protest but vowed this was by no means the end of students’ action.
He added: “I’m going to keep pushing him for a meeting. I doubt at this stage, if I’m not allowed into the Civic Centre, I’ll be allowed to sit down with Boris.
“But we’re going to keep pushing him and if we need to do it again, we’ll do it again.
“We’re never going to go quiet on the issue. So the next step is the national demonstration on November 4 at Trafalgar Square.”
n ‘SAVE OUR GRANTS’: Brunel students march through Uxbridge on Friday in protest at planned cuts to their grants