Picket of Stephen Farry’s Office Over Tuition Fee Threat

  • 12832478_1521822784788278_4602444397245168354_nFees hike would make higher education “preserve of the rich”
  • Labour Alternative demand “free education, not handouts for the fat cats”
  • Threat shows Alliance supports “right-wing austerity agenda”
Today we called a picket of Minister for Employment & Learning Stephen Farry’s constituency office in Bangor over his threat to increase tuition fees to as much as £9,000 per year. The protest has been backed by the President of Belfast Met Students’ Union.
Louise Meek (18) – Belfast Met SU President who supported today’s protest said:

“Unfortunately, a degree no longer guarantees a secure job with decent pay. With thousands of public sector jobs being wiped out by Stormont cuts, many graduates will face unemployment or poverty pay. Increasing tuition fees will freeze many from low and middle-income backgrounds out of third-level education, fearing becoming shackled to a mountain of debt. We cannot allow higher education to again become the preserve of the rich. The students’ movement must organise to fight back. That’s why I’m backing the protest.”

Already, around one in five young people are not in employment, education or training. An increase in tuition fees will only deepen this crisis and worsen all the social ills that go along with long-term unemployment and poverty, such as mental health problems and addiction. Stephen Farry says there is no option but to increase tuition fees, yet he supports a cut in corporation tax that will transfer around £300 million per year directly from public services to the profits of big business. We demand investment to provide free education, not handouts for the fat cats.

The Alliance Party often poses as the alternative to the Orange and Green status quo, but they support the same right-wing austerity agenda as the other main parties. It is no coincidence that the most deprived communities in Northern Ireland are also the most scarred by the legacy of the conflict and by ongoing sectarian division. We need a real alternative that unites workers and young people from both communities in the fight against austerity and for a better life for all. That is what Labour Alternative will be offering on 5th May.