Student demo fails to inspire

March 1, 2002

Student union leaders have dismissed last week's mass protest by the National Union of Students as a waste of time.

Darius Laws, external affairs officer at Lincoln University's students union, said the consensus was that last Wednesday's march and rally through London had been ineffective.

Mr Laws said: "There are more intelligent forms of protest, and there is the risk that this type of event gets students a bad name.

"Its hardly constructive getting thousands of students with loudspeakers out on the streets, especially when they simplify a complex issue down to a slogan like 'Grants not fees'. I very much doubt that this is going to shift the opinion of anyone in authority."

Mr Laws said the NUS was being torn between political factions and losing touch with "ordinary students".

He said: "The wider view is not represented, and political infighting just turns off ordinary students. A rally is an outdated event. I would like to see more intellectual discussion forums to get our message across."

Andy Beesley, education officer at Leeds Metropolitan University students union, said: "I don't think the NUS's influence really exists, and I don't think the demonstration will work." He said the "Grants not fees" slogan was useless.

An NUS spokesman said that the event, which police estimated had attracted about 4,000 students, had raised the profile of the campaign and had persuaded the government to commit to a timetable for its review of student finance.

"The government can no longer be in any doubt about the contempt in which most students hold their education policies," the spokesman said.

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