Protests and Promotions

“Now is the winter of our discontent” Shakespeare wrote, and while he qualified it with “Made glorious summer by this sun of York”, meaning things are actually picking up rather nicely, thanks, it is tempting to ignore the Bard’s optimism and take his opening line of Richard III at face value. After all, it is a winter where so far we have been a bit chilly, so chilly that it even affects a mighty First World economy, apparently. Resignation upon resignation upon resignation bring glee to many, and sadness to others, not that those quittings will make a dent in the massive unemployment figures. And a revolutionary fervour grips the globe, with Tunisia overthrowing its autocratic government and Egypt engaged in similar efforts with its own authoritarian regime. In many ways the protests today on England’s streets look somewhat less dramatic, and even less important, in comparison, but it is them and not alleged phone hackers or proven sexists’ resignations we are blogging about, but those very demonstrations happening today.

Today, two major UK cities are the focus of student protests. In London, the NCAFC (The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts) are having their “National demo – No Fees, No Cuts! Defend Education & the Public Sector!” demonstration, backed by trade unions such as Unite, UCU and GMB, while in Manchester the NUS organised “A Future That Works” rally, supported by Unite, UNISON, PCS, NUT and the Education Activist Network, is underway. Both are the latest in a series of actions taken since the Coalition’s higher education policies were announced, first with tuition fee rises and then with the dismantling of the EMA allowance. Good luck to all those attending the protests, and hopefully there will be no repeat of the violence by a relatively small minority that marred previous demonstrations, and coloured the media reporting thereof. The actions of a handful of idiotic rotten apples should not be allowed to spoil the rest of the well-behaved barrel, so good protestin’!

Of course, what the most persecuted of football personalities called “dark forces at work here” are indeed at work, here. By which I mean the insidious shadow of a tub thump for my own wares. A lot of the issues that need to be addressed in higher education, from graduate unemployment (now 1 in 5 new graduates being out of work) to the quality of course teaching, and, naturally, the ever present Banquo’s ghostian spectre of tuition fees, are subjects that motivated us to make Graduate Decline (soon to be granted the Dr Strangelove style subtitle “or: The Amazing University” alongside its current moniker). To be blunt the sense of betrayal this writer felt at a system whereby having done all the right things (or things we were told were the right things) like get good GCSEs, good A Levels and go to university yet still could not get a job, be it in the industry I wished to work in or elsewhere, motivated the production. The piece cost less than £150 and used genuine graduates and students alongside trained actors, and, if you have yet to see it, deserves a look (or a second, if you’ve seen it before.)

It can be seen on the films page, or, for those who are just lookin’ at the blog, it is here in all its bounteous glory.

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