By continuing to use the site you agree to our Privacy & Cookies policy

‘Direct action was necessary’ says Bartlett student protester

One of the first protesters to storm the Conservative Party headquarters claims the action was justified because tuition fee hikes risk making architecture even more ‘the preserve of the rich’

‘Direct action was necessary to show the level of intent and the seriousness of the protest,’ said a UCL Bartlett School of Architecture student who preferred to remain unnamed.

A breakaway group from a peaceful protest against government plans to increase tuition fees to £9,000 a year yesterday lay siege to the political party’s base at Millbank Tower in Westminster, London.

As many as a thousand students took part in the action which saw windows smashed and a fire extinguisher hurled from the rooftop.

‘It’s going to cripple people financially, it’s going to give them debts of ridiculous amounts,’ said the protester.

‘Architecture is one of the most elite professions and it’s really bad how you’re expected to self-fund research for five years and that prices out a lot of people.

‘[If you add up] fees and material costs and living costs you’re talking £60,000 or £70,000 of debt and with not many jobs out there and frankly a low rate of pay for architects it’s going to make it difficult to justify that length of course, it’s going to make architecture education very indulgent.

‘It will be the preserve of the rich.’

David Cameron this morning condemned the violence as ‘unacceptable’ but said the reform of universities funding would go ahead.

He described the policy as ‘a more progressive system than the one that it will replace’

Organised by the National Union of Students (NUS), the main peaceful event also protested against plans to reduce university funding by 40 per cent and end all teaching grants but those for science and maths.

The NUS blamed the violence on ‘rogue protesters’ and said it undermined the students’ cause. The union’s president, Aaron Porter, said the storming of Millbank Tower was ‘despicable’.

Heads of architecture schools last month criticised proposals to increase tuition fees claiming it could turn architecture education into a ‘two-tier system’.

 

Postscript, RIBA comment

 

The RIBA shares the students’ fears regarding tuition fees and fully understands their reasons for demonstrating.

We have already stated our concerns about the likelihood of massively increased tuition fees in response to the Lord Browne review, and the serious potential consequences this will have for the future of the architects’ profession. With a seven-year course to qualification, architecture students stand to enter employment with an inordinate financial burden, which many simply cannot afford.

Architecture is already an exception, because unlike other professions part II graduates enter the work market with more debt than their first year’s salary; by saddling students with an even higher debt, the Government would set a massive financial barrier in front of the many talented students, who may be discouraged from considering studying architecture.

We will continue to urge the Government to consider the full impact of the rise in tuition fees before the architecture profession suffers irrecoverable damage.

Readers' comments (5)

  • This is really unfair. International students already are paying up to £20,000 at some universities with absolutely no hope for jobs in the future. Now that it's become like this for home students with cutting funds and grants it's getting worse.
    Studying should be about potentials and academic background not based on money heritage! This way the futue architects of the country will be only the rich and god knows what the outcome is.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • I am reading this during my lunch break from a placement job i am doing for the 3rd year of my 4 year architectural technology degree and I must say that I have a lot of friends doing a wide range of degrees in the building industry and even now, they are struggling with funding. I do not dare to imagine what this 'reform' will do.
    At this rate, the government will cause the building industry amongst many others to be almost non-functional in 10 years time, with getting the proper training to design buildings being priced too high and the fact that generally prices are escalating in this country, soon enough, very few will be qualified to design a building, and if some one manages to, there won't be the funds to build it!

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • What else do you expect from RIBA especially under Ruth Reed ? Look at her response over the low pay issue. What an insipid disaster her tenure has been. Mind you the RIBA has only ever cared about the 'big boys' and to boot wastes its energies fighting the ARB. Wouldn't that energy be better spent co-operating with ARB and supporting the smaller practices, one man bands and the future of this profession the students? Dream on.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • What else do you expect from RIBA especially under Ruth Reed ? Look at her response over the low pay issue. What an insipid disaster her tenure has been. Mind you the RIBA has only ever cared about the 'big boys' and to boot wastes its energies fighting the ARB. Wouldn't that energy be better spent co-operating with ARB and supporting the smaller practices, one man bands and the future of this profession the students? Dream on.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Couldn't the RIBA put their time into restructuring the degree course, at least in line with other EU countries. I can't see tuition fees coming down and it seems like a waste of time sending polite e-mails to the government to ask them to reconsider passed legislation!
    I have just completed part 1 (just in time!) and feel the whole course (P1 & 2) should be 4 years long in a masters format (like engineering) with a sandwich placement year in between 3rd and 4th years where students can earn a salery.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

Related Jobs

Sign in to see the latest jobs relevant to you!

The searchable digital buildings archive with drawings from more than 1,500 projects

AJ newsletters