Students taking part in the Leeds for Free Education campaign took part in a demonstration last Friday to fight for cutting tuition fees in UK universities.
The march started at Leeds University Union with speeches given by Sam Morcroft, a PhD student at the University of Sheffield and member of the University and College Union, and Lily Green, member of Greenhead College Socialist Students, in Huddersfield.
Activists rallied at Victoria Gardens, outside Leeds Art Gallery, attracting around 150 people from across the Yorkshire region.
Speaking to The Gryphon, Mary Finch, an organiser of the Leeds for Free Education campaign, said: “We think tuition fees should be abolished, and education should be publicly funded, for two reasons mostly – first of all, on principle, education is a human right. When you charge fees, especially fees as high as £9,000 a year (or even higher for international students), it becomes a privilege – something you have to afford.”
“The other reason – she added – is that there’s an estimated £120 billion that goes uncollected in tax every year in the UK. If we closed loopholes and ended tax evasion by big corporations like Starbucks and Amazon, we could more than afford to fund free education!”
Leeds for Free Education have also criticised the Labour party’s pledge to reduce tuition fees to £6000.
Miss Finch said: “Ed Miliband has recently promised to reduce fees to £6,000 a year, but that’ not nearly enough. It’s not an issue of minimally reducing the debt students have to pay back – we have to make education genuinely equally accessible to everyone, and that can only be done by making it free.”
Members of the Leeds for Free Education campaign are planning further demonstrations calling action to increase the living wage and to abolish youth rates like £5.13 for employees between 18 to 20 years old and £6.50 for 21 years old and over.