The NUS’s ‘Grants Not Loans’ rally: In the words of Channel 4’s Jon Snow, a “return to the days of political activism” for the nation’s student population. Or was it?
How many of the thousands of students who attended the march really gave a toss about free access to education? Fifty? Sixty? They were easy enough to spot: they were the ones with the megaphones and the ‘NUS Marshall’ t-shirts. And what about the other 15,840 – the ones who were just there for the craic, the chance to be on TV and the vain hope that they might not have to pay back their student loan? They were easy to spot too: they were the ones with the Diesel jeans, Ericsson T39s and nothing better to do.
Take for example the notoriously apathetic student body of my alma mata, The Nottingham Trent University.
The university’s Union of Students – already massively in debt due to students deserting their (subsidised) student bars in favour of Nottingham’s growing number of (very un-subsidised) theme-bars – was so desperate to encourage its punters to support the march that it published a full page advert in Platform, NTU’s campus newspaper, reminding readers of the benefits of marching on the capital.
And exactly what, according to the advert, are the main reasons to attend a march to highlight student poverty?
‘The march only lasts for a few hours so, after you’ve finished demonstrating your crazy student antics for the TV cameras, there’ll be plenty of time for shopping, shopping, and more shopping’.
So, a strong message from Nottingham Trent University then…
What do we want? More money in our pockets.
When do we want it? Before the shops shut.