Since the release of Fight Back! A Reader on the Winter of Protest in February, much has occurred in the British student movement to give the collection new relevancy.
Almost 90 universities have revealed their tuition fee plans, of which more than two-thirds want to charge the maximum amount of £9000, knocking down assurances by universities minister David Willetts that the upper limit would only be applied in 'exceptional circumstances'. Fresh accusations that the Conservatives are looking to implement a two-tier education system have followed proposals revealed this week that would allow the richest students to pay for university places. Across the UK, institutions continue to implement crippling cuts to staff and course budgets, with the arts and humanities the first victims.
Despite proclamations as early as February that the student movement in the UK was dead, high profile occupations and protests at UCL, London Met and Glasgow University have drawn attention to a continuing struggle, as has the level of student solidarity with the UCU strikes across the UK over staff pensions in March.
The student movement was never just about tuition fees but about the nature of education and market values and the impact of Coalition policy across the UK. Therefore it was never going to die after 9 December 2010 when the fee policy was approved for English universities. The book Fight Back! addresses the bigger picture, combining accounts of the new politics of networked process (see Paul Mason's review in the New Statesman) with analysis of the government's approach to marketising higher education as a whole.
Yesterday, the Free Hetherington occupation at Glasgow University celebrated a hundred days of occupation. Cailean Gallagher has marked the occasion with an article on the history, spirit and aims of the occupation, showing how it has opened up Scottish and UK-wide debate on the purpose of higher education. OurKingdom has taken the opportunity to celebrate with them by posting a short video of our launch of Fight Back!, courtesy of Isis Thompson of The Real Social Network, who are currently making a documentary about the UCL occupation.
(Note Sophie Burge has been misspelled as 'Sophie Burch'. Apologies to Sophie.)