Published on November 5, 2013 | by Ruby Sigurdardottir

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Art students ‘graduating into poverty’

Group of activists at the Student Assembly Against Austerity at University College London [Joshua Hayes]

More than 150 student activists have come together in the latest protest against spending cuts at the Student Assembly Against Austerity rally.

The event at University College London (UCL) was held to organise campaigns against the coalition government’s “awful austerity agenda”.

In the opening speech Owen Jones, columnist for The Independent, said: “Students are absolutely central to any anti-austerity movement, both in terms of getting people organised and mobilised, and giving hope and inspiration to others.”

UAL Students’ Union president Shelly Asquith was a speaker at the event, and talked about the rising cost of being an arts student.

Underfunded

Asquith said: “Arts and fashion are now two of the most underfunded industries in the country. Art students are graduating into a culture of unpaid internships, and they are graduating into poverty.”

Other speakers included Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney and Stoke Newington, who discussed ways to reverse the rising cost of living, and comedian Francesca Martinez, who argued that the UK’s current economic system is “destroying our planet”.

When outlining the austerity measures – which include the possible privatisation of student loans, “crippling” higher education fees and the scrapping of Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) – speakers urged students to participate in ‘The Bonfire of Austerity’ on November 5.

‘Bonfire of Austerity’

Sam Fairbairn, secretary of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, said that the Bonfire of Austerity is set to be “one of the biggest days of direct action for many years”.

“Up and down the country there are already 45 actions taking place ranging from occupations of banks, job centres and post offices, to roadblocks and protests targeting privatisation and tax evaders.”

In London, the ‘day of disobedience’ will start at 6pm on Tuesday, November 5 in the Jubilee Gardens, South Bank.

Student activists will march from there towards Parliament and attempt to blockade Westminster Bridge.

 

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