Threat to cut budget scuppers fees strike

June 8, 2001

A student union has been forced to call off a planned fees strike after threats that its university would cut £60,000 from its budget.

University College London students were told that their funding would be cut if they went ahead with the action. The move has been condemned by student leaders as "strong-arm tactics".

The union had planned a campaign for next academic year to encourage students to wait until the last possible date to pay their tuition fees. It had agreed to write to all freshers over the summer asking them to join in and to try to get other University of London student unions involved.

It was at this point that UCL took action, said students. A union council meeting noted that "the provost of UCL will cut the budget of the union by £60,000 for the next year unless the fees strike is called off". The union resolved to call off the strike and to protest directly to the government.

Owain James, president of the National Union of Students, said: "Students have a right to demonstrate their discontent without having essential student union support services such as welfare advisers, threatened.

"NUS condemns the use of strong-arm tactics to silence students who are attempting to highlight the serious under-funding of higher education."

But UCL union communications officer Laura Emson said: "The situation was resolved with mature discussion."

UCL declined to comment.

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