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Students in anti fee privatization protest

May 3, 2021

first_imgAt noon this Wednesday, a small group of  students and former students assembled outside the Clarendon Building on Broad Street to participate in an “open-air meeting” and demonstrate their discontent over the loan sell-off. Balliol JCR also passed a motion on Sunday condemning the government’s plan to privatise student loans and offering their support to the protesters.The events were scheduled as part of a wider ‘National Day of Action’, organised by the Student Assembly Against Austerity (SAAA). Over twenty six campuses from across the UK, including Oxford, LSE and Sheffield, were involved in the protest. The privatisation of student loan debt was announced as part of the government’s attempts to raise £15 billion from the sale of public assets to private companies by 2020.Xavier Cohen, who proposed the anti-privatisation motion at Balliol told Cherwell, “For me, it’s quite clear that the government’s plans to privatise our student loans are ideological. But what I think really convinced Balliol JCR students is the threat that privatisation will entail removing the cap on the interest rates we pay back on our loans. Even if such a policy was legally covered in the small print, realistically, this would mean retroactively increasing the interest rates that students were led to believe were capped.”David Willetts MP, the Universities Minister, swiftly defended the plans. In a public statement issued by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills he said, “There will be no change to the terms of repayment so students shouldn’t be affected by the privatisation of their loans.”Many students, however, remain sceptical about the Minister’s promises. Olivia Arigho-Stiles from Somerville said, “This is yet another attack on the accessibility of higher education to less well-off students in this country.” Wednesday’s protest-meeting passed off without incident. One student who attended the meeting said, “The programme of debt-privatisation is wholly ideological. It is being operated entirely at the expense of all students. Either we speak out or be bled dry.” Other students, however, disagree with the protesters and the SAAA. One Keble second-year said, “The notion that there is still a clear-cut dichotomy between public and private debt is erroneous. All public debt held in US dollars and sterling becomes private debt at some point down the line by virtue of being constituted in private reserve currency… Objections raised over the ideological nature of privatisation are misplaced.”Local Green Party City Councillor and recent Oxford graduate Sam Hollick attended the the protest outside the Clarendon Building. He told Cherwell, “If you’re going to privatise student loans, you open them up to companies who want to make profit out of them, and the only way to make profit is to put up the interest rates on our debts. So results of this could be a hike in fees for students, even for people who’ve already graduated.”Asked whether he was disappointed by the very low turnout at the event – only a dozen students attended – Hollick replied, “I always think that it doesn’t take a huge number of people to change the world.”last_img

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