We must oppose the cuts at MMU, or we’ll be cut together

4 Dec

Over 250 people demonstrated against the job cuts at Manchester Metropolitan University on Friday, 27th November. The 127 cuts are only the first salvo in the attack on jobs and education at MMU. Our new campaign group Manchester for Jobs and Education has been formed as the students answer to the war on their universities in the form of budget cuts and redundancies.

We stand with Unison, University and College Union, and other people from many backgrounds against the cuts. The coalition of people against these acts realizes that in time of economic distress that we cannot justly disinvest in people. That is what the 127 redundancies and the national de-funding of education represent, jobs and education are the means of material and intellectual sustenance of individuals and society.

As more students apply for university, young and mature, they will seek institutions that can accommodate them and give them an experience that will allow them to develop. We simply cannot do that without the staff, the technical, administrative, and manual staff. Alongside the tutors, the aforementioned employees operate, file, and maintain the university and its facilities.

Despite the value of universities and their staff’s efforts, the government has announced funding cuts for education with the intention to save £35 million by 2010 (the Guardian, 17/11/09); nevertheless, according to The Times Higher Education online, Vice Chancellor’s across the UK are making windfall salaries (e.g. Sir Colin Campbell of University of Nottingham makes £585,000; Manchester Metropolitan’s John Brooks makes £250,000-max). The Vice Chancellor’s salary is complemented by a £22,000 pension and the university £1.3 million budget surplus in fiscal year 2009-2010; notwithstanding, the absurd rise in tuition fees that have recently replaced free public education (except in Scotland).

This is abhorrent, plain and simple. In times of economic crisis we should invest more in public services. This will create jobs (in this case maintain jobs), it will educate a wider percentage of the population and emerging workforce, accommodate the needs of the population; moreover, it will ensure economic security for those in the sector as opposed to a shock therapy aimed at making the universities competitive with new buildings and material gimmicks.

How do we propose that we do this? Manchester for Jobs and Education demands that: 1) completely halt the cuts and the increase in tuition fees; 2) Management stops squandering university funds (i.e. lavish vacations and benefit packages); 3) fund education, with reductions at the top, not the bottom (i.e. large management salaries, and for the government: 4.5 billion war spending, or MP’s salaries); 4). We unashamedly side with the workers in decrying the failure of mismanagement and with over 5300 staff and student signatures we demand a no-confidence vote for Vice Chancellor John Brooks.

The cuts in education are happening in direct correlation with rising fees and the depletion of services. Our interests are clear, we have to advocate and agitate for our jobs and our education, because they are ours; if we do not fight for our interests then nobody else will.

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