Students Unite

Article @ Morning Star, published 26 March 2015

Students created havoc across central London yesterday as they blocked roads and shut down buildings in protest against £500,000 worth of cuts at the capital’s most prestigious arts university.

After a few failed attempts, University of the Arts London (UAL) free education campaigners succeeded in taking over the London College of Communication (LCC), making it their second occupied campus.

Kings College London has also gone into occupation following the example of the neighbouring London School of Economics — now in its eighth day of a sit-in.

Higher education students have been protesting up and down the country before the general election demanding a return to free education.

And it was revealed last Thursday that 800 foundation places will be cut.

All of LCC’s foundation degrees will be terminated at the end of this academic year.

First year film student Xenia Lefevre told the Star: “I think foundation courses are essential for the education of an artist.

“When you are young you know you are imaginative and creative but you might not know if you’re an illustrator or a graphic designer — foundations give you the possibility to figure that out.

“It’s really important to give young artists the possibility to find themselves, so they don’t go to uni and study something they don’t like and give up.”

Yesterday’s protest started off at LSE’s occupation, zig-zagging through some of the capital’s main streets until it reached UAL’s largest college in south London.

Black-clad protesters jumped through barriers and over walls attempting to break through the building’s security lock down.

But as someone triggered the school’s fire alarm and general evacuation took place, campaigners were able to sneak into LCC and occupy the main lobby.

UAL student union president Shelly Asquith said: “The cuts to UAL represent an assault on further education, an assault on access to higher education.

“An assault on workers, an assault on black students, on our class.

“We have to stand up, we have to stand with those students and staff and fight it.”

As the Star went to press the police had been called on the premises but were only able to block new students from joining.