Stu­dents call on Boris to op­pose grant cuts

Slash­ing main­te­nance ‘re­gres­sive and dan­ger­ous’

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.