As protesters marched through the streets of central London, fighting the government’s assault on higher education, it was life as usual at Kingston University. Students went to lessons, sat assessments and handed in coursework.
When quizzed about this apparent lack of interest, many appeared unaware of the protest. One student said that he had intended to go but had not been sure of the date, while another said he had seen no posters or flyers for the march.
In a statement on the studentspace website, KUSU President TJ Esubiyi called for support “as we proclaim and ask the government to put themselves in the shoes of the people whose lives they’re changing.”
At KUSU Emergency General Meeting to discuss the Browne Report last month, Vice-Chancellor Sir Peter Scott told students: “You should take all possible steps to prevent this from going ahead…Look at what the students are doing in France, now I’m not saying to do that, but they did get on the TV news.”
Yet out of 22 students we asked, 14 knew nothing about Kingston’s involvement in the march, and eight of these didn’t even know there was a protest taking place.
Rosie Trayfoot, a third year Psychology student, thought it was related to a general student malaise, and the belief that it wouldn’t affect them directly. She also thought that lots of students were worried about missing out on their studies or exams and assessments. “We did have an assessment, and it was impossible for our lecturer to move it to a different time.”
Many believe that the Students’ Union could have done more to promote the march. Some said little was done to organise or to motivate people. Several suggested that lectures should have been set aside, or that buses could have been arranged to transport demonstrators from the university.
However the blame cannot be laid completely on the Students’ Union. When questioned, one student’s answer said it all “I just don’t think anyone really took it seriously enough.”