Saturday, December 11, 2010

Imagine being 17 now
This is the story of a group of 17 year old girls who wanted to protest and planned to leave if things became violent... and what happened when they found they couldn't. I find it difficut not to weep just looking at the picture but to read these words.

I also saw another video from a mobile phone at the point when the police charged the kettle... towards the end there is a boy. He looks no more than 13, perhaps younger. Maybe the police do have a difficult job, I've seen violence against them and admire them for the work they do... but there needs to be more sensitivity, humanity and better training to deal with the huge range of individuals involved in a crowd such as this. I've read several accounts where people explain being pushed to the front, where they try hard to back away from the riot police and end up getting a beating. I could easily imagine myself in that situation too but there is no possibility for peaceful protest because there will always be a few who want to fight the police.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Our Vice-Chancellor Bob Cryan write to us today:

The text below is an extract from an e-mail from our VC.

"From 2012 our students will have to pay higher fees to compensate for the 80%+ cut in teaching funding that we will receive and they will have 30 years to pay it back.  I cannot ask our future students to do this without being prepared to do it myself.  I have benefitted from an outstanding education at the University of Huddersfield and so, once we have set our fee levels, I intend to take on the same 30 year tuition fee debt as our future students and will set up a standing order to make payments directly to a student support fund for our University."

It is clear that there are going to be some significant cuts and we will see dramatic change in every University now, however I present our VC's words here with pride.

Sad Day

Just two words? 

I don’t have sufficient to express my feeling on the student or police violence. It takes 1 idiot to throw a snooker ball and light the fuse, so police do what they’re instructed to, and the possibility of peaceful protest collapses. I’m horrified but not surprised. 

True violence happened in Parliament but now public opinion will be against students and Higher Education because of this? This is however not just about tuition fees and the students; subject areas could fold, departments and entire institutions vanish. I don’t support violence at all; the whole sector will loose public support because of it. Well done Clegg, yes, I do blame you for a promise you had no right to make. 

I have sympathy those caught in it, last night and in the long painful run. Lets be realistic about who is in the crowd:

1) This affects kids who are not yet students and some would have been swept along with the excitement then caught in the middle of something more than they could have imagined and will never forget.

2) Who are ‘the students’ anyway? Today (after the previous government pushed everyone they could into HE) ‘students’ represent a large section of our society. Peaceful, intelligent, passionate as well as violent. The violence of course can’t be disputed but the peaceful protest didn’t happen because we don’t see them reported? I meet a huge variety of people in my job and yes there are some who provoke violence but in my domain, many more who would stand peacefully but defend themselves if they feel threatened and frightened.

3) Non-students. What a great opportunity to just get out there and provoke the police, or to express anger about any number of things! They are clearly not all students.

Finally, which muppet/genius approved that the Royal car should be driven into the area?!

Last night I went to TaeKwon Do –I was studying the disciplined art of fighting, with thoughts of violent clashes and a concern for what happens next in my mind. At the same time a very unique group of individuals, all of them friends of mine who I respect more than I think any of them know, locked horns on Facebook: a teacher, a soldier recently returned from serving our country, a IV Dan international level martial artist and teacher, a philosopher and socialist – my truly inspiring brother, another who is also a lecturer in our own department, and another teacher. I'm not sure why but something about this comment feed struck me profoundly as I know each person here and can hear your voice when you speak. I can't explain that but it will stay with me, and I must add my own voice or at least clarify the status update the prompted your words...

Sad day
Because of the vote and disappointment with the government, the violence and disappointment on behalf of the future generation of students, and for colleagues all over the country who will meet the students (customers), parents (customers), the cuts (job losses…the most commercial institutions, not necessarily the best, will survive), the government (social engineers), the public opinion of HE and whatever angle the media choose (more often to put pressure on HE).

Where is Education in this? The word ‘my fees pay your salary’ will not be heard in my lecture room. Now I preface everything with my philosophy for teaching and learning. 

What pains me more is that there will be young people missing an opportunity for higher education, not because they should be doing something more directly vocational (learning a trade), but because they can’t face the albatross of debt, or because they might be worried about saddling their parents with it. A student who trains in physics/music/art/maths graduates and studies a PGCE and becomes a teacher is not the only person to benefit from their training. I hear that there are less than 400 PGCE places for music teacher training in England next year... Hull is cutting 100% funding for their local music services. 

All of this is connected and every ounce of it makes me angry, particularly a government who gain a position of power based on promises made without the facts.

With the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize was also announced yesterday and so I remember the sight of a single man protesting in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989. 

What next?