Talbot Campus on #dayx3*

The cold cuts deep despite the sun’s subtle warmth. A young girl pulls her coat tight around her, shivering in the bitter air as she makes her way to the warmth of Poole House. Shelter.

Inside, the canteen marks a departure from the desolate barrens of the outside world – conversations compete for attention as students sit nursing hot drinks, discussing the ebbs and flows of existence. Despite the chatter, however, many seats are empty; the abandoned tables contrast with the hub of activity that the canteen usually brings. The cashiers wear Christmas hats, trying to invoke some festive spirit. A tiny Christmas tree sits atop a counter, looking forlorn. Today, we mourn.

Today is the day that Parliament votes on the proposals for the rise in tuition fees; today is the day that our government votes to condemn future generations to a lifetime of debt. Perhaps this is the reason Talbot Campus is so empty, so unwelcoming – a taste of things to come. I head out of Poole House and make my way to the AUCB campus, to see if the atmosphere is any different. As I step onto AUCB soil, the rays of the sun hit me in the face, blinding me. The campus, however, is also deserted. A stack of abandoned goods lay strewn on the side of the path – chairs, desks, planks of wood, a TV. As I make a right and head down the path towards the courtyard, I see a few students wandering aimlessly, some sitting on benches smoking cigarettes in the bitter cold as a bulldozer makes its way towards a construction site, scattering a few students who look lost. The atmosphere here is no different from Talbot Campus; it is empty, uninviting and desolate. Today the whole of Bournemouth University appears to be in mourning, the outcome already pre-empted by the few who walk the twin campuses with no real purpose. I depart. A small procession of students passes, some carrying placards, making their way to the SUBU coaches bound for the London protest. Some have not given up yet, imbued with a fighting spirit and a sense of optimism. They are chatting amongst themselves, laughing. It inspires hope in me.

In the circle courtyard outside Poole House, a banner reads: “Bournemouth University against Education Cuts”. The courtyard itself is empty. Work is still commencing on the newest “state-of-the-art” lecture theatre, the construction site fenced off. Who knows whether it will ever be filled once the cuts start to bite? I head back into Poole House, into the warmth. Grabbing a coffee, I sit down and mull over the scene before me. Suddenly, Christmas music pipes up, lifting the bleak mood. BU language society members stand in a line, enacting the songs in sign language for those who sit attentively. People clap. I chuck a few pence into the donation pot and make my way out, hands in pockets, deep in thought.

*#dayx3 is the twitter hashtag for the third day of student demonstrations which took place on the actual day that Parliament voted on the proposals to raise tuition fees. I wrote this feature on dayx3, as I walked around Bournemouth University’s Talbot Campus. It was a cold winter morning, and the campus was fairly quiet, perhaps an indicator of things to come, I wondered. I filed this under Comment as well as Fiction>Stories, as it is also a piece of creative, journalistic writing.

The Police: The Arm of the State?

The police have come under fire lately for their handling of the recent student protests – the tactics that they have used and the level of force utilised. There are at least two sides to every story, we are told, and two differing sides have clearly been portrayed in the protests of late.

On the one side we have the view that the student protests have been mainly violent affairs, with the majority creating havoc and destruction and damaging their own cause. Supporters of this view praise the police for their actions and for showing “restraint” against the rampant “mobs”. On the other side, we have the view that the police have over-reacted and they have been the ones who instigated the violence, with supporters of this view claiming that it is the police who have been acting violently and over-extending their powers, detaining or “kettling” protestors for many hours on end with no access to food, water, toilers or shelter – effectively removing their civil liberties. What doesn’t help either side is the biased media shows that are played out, with many only showing the most sensationalist aspects of the protest, whilst ignoring the peaceful majority.

It is times like these when the people must ask the question: “who do the police really work for?” Are they there to facilitate peaceful protest and work for the people? Or are they there to support the government, with the people coming second? At the Whitehall protest, I asked one officer who was refusing to let us leave: “Do you work for the government, or the people?” He replied: “Well, the government pays me”. In that case, who pays the government? Continue reading

The Marketisation of Education: The Untold Story

Photo taken by Louis Sidwell, Nov. 2010

As the government plans to cut higher education funding whilst pushing up the cost of tuition fees, many are left reeling in the wake of the Liberal Democrats’ complete U-Turn on their own manifesto and the worries for the future of higher education itself.

The coalition proposes to cut teaching grants by 80%  and to raise tuition fees by nearly triple the current asking price as a “replacement” for the massive cut in education funding. This will leave Universities with around a 40% drop in their guaranteed incomes. But what will be the real repercussions of these proposals?

It essentially means that the funding of university teaching will shift from the taxpayer to the student, thus creating a free market in Uni courses. Continue reading

Uni Work

I have uploaded several essay assignments that I have submitted to University over the last two years. They can be found under the “Uni Work” tab at the top of the page, above the header. I shall upload some more as I finish them, to showcase a portfolio of sorts and also as a place to store the completed assignments. Feel free to check them out and leave comments and/or criticism.