Student activists protested nationwide yesterday in a first day of action against the government’s plans to sell the student loans book.
This "national day of action", co-ordinated by Students Assembly Against Austerity, was organised following the Government’s announcement that the loan book could be privatised in 2015. The proposal included plans to lift the low-interest cap that graduates currently pay, meaning that those who graduated between 1998 and 2012 are at risk of paying more.
25 universities took part in the protests yesterday, which saw students at some universities occupying university buildings.
NUS Black Students Officer and spokesperson for the Student Assembly Against Austerity Aaron Kiely said today that “through collective, united action we have successfully sounded the alarm about the government’s plans to burden students with even more debt through selling off our student loans to private companies".
“Our aim simple: to force the government to back down and drop the planned privatization of student loans. The Student Assembly Against Austerity will be co-ordinating further actions on this issue in the New Year.”
Josiah Mortimer, who organised the York protest which attracted around 30 students, said ‘It was really important that students took part. We had a rally, with lots of positive responses. It’s revitalised the sense of anger in students, which has been lying dormant since the 2010 fees increase protests.’
Student unions across the country backed the protests for spreading awareness of the issue. Sheffield student union’s education officer Sam Rae said: “The union supports all students’ right to protest, and opposes the privatisation of the student loan book.”
The communications officer for UEA's union, Rosie Rawle, said: “the technicalities of the proposals can be difficult to get to grips with, but the outcomes of privatising the loan book are clear. We are very anti-fees and anti-cuts.”