An impromptu march caused traffic tailbacks across the city centre this afternoon as dozens of students protested against government cuts to university arts funding.
The march began with a rally outside Senate House at the University of Bristol organised by Students Against Cuts. Speakers included Fin Deane of Students Against Cuts, Patrick McAllister, co-chair of Bristol Young Greens, and Nicholas Clare, chair of Socialist Students.
Their confidence boosted by the number of attendees, organisers decided to march and led 40 students and supporters on an improvised route taking in Park Street, Rupert Street and Broadmead before ending in Castle Park and leaving a trail of irritated motorists and bus drivers.
Speaking to TBA, co-organiser Fin Deane, 17, was happy with the march, saying ‘we’ve proved today that we can organise an event like this and we can disrupt and we can demand, as a collective.’
Students Against Cuts is a Bristol-based collective campaigning against government cuts to education, especially funding for arts and humanities which have been cut by as much as 50%.
In addition, Students Against Cuts wants education to be made more accessible through the abolition of private schools, free higher education and equal opportunities for students with protected characteristics.
Fin went on to say that in the long term he wants to see ‘an end to austerity in this sector, and we want an end to austerity in all sectors, because it is destroying our education, it is destroying teachers’ jobs and lives.’
Today’s (November 24) demo and march come one week ahead of planned strike action by the UCU from December 1-3. Strikes will take place at 68 universities including the University of Bristol against cuts to staff pensions.
The timing of the demo also coincides with the 11th anniversary of large-scale student protests against the then-Government’s decision to increase tuition fees and cut funding. In Bristol, a protest of 2,000 students was heavily policed resulting in arrests and injuries to protesters.