Yesterday something unusual occured in the historic City of Stirling – a large march and rally though its town centre. The purpose was to protest job cuts at the University – specifically, 17 compulsory redundancies being made in the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling: Scotland’s only Instutute of Aquaculture, which enjoys an international reputation for world-reading research. The opportunity was also taken to celebrate free education in Scotland, and to continue the fight to protect our education system from cuts. On the same day staff across departments at the University were striking in protest at the redundancies.
Stirling Students Rally Against Job Cuts
The march was made up of 450 of Stirling’s staff and students, organised by UCU in collaboration with Stirling University’s Student Union. Starting at the university, the march wound it’s way through Causewayhead, over Stirling Bridge and through the historic town centre, ending with speeches at the public dais at the junction of King Street and Port Street – bang in the city centre where the rally was supported and joined by locals, shoppers, and various other onlookers. Chants heard during the march included the classics ‘No Ifs! No Buts! No Education Cuts!’, and ‘When they say Cut Back we say Fight Back’. Some of these were chanted back at us enthusiastically by the school students we passed on the way (the march went past Wallace High School). The candidates for the Stirling constituency in the Scottish Election were present (except, obviously, for the Conservative), as well as local and national media.
Students and staff at the University of Stirling are – like their counterparts across the country – worried for the future of their jobs, their courses and their institutions. It is widely believed that these compulsory redundancies in the Instutite of Aquaculture will not be the last compulsory redundancies made at the University. The Institute of Aquaculture itself is well worth defending: as this article outlines, it does important humanitarian and conservation work in Bangladesh, teaching the local people how to conserve one of their most vital food sources, and running a night school for local children (which receives no funding and survives entirely on donations). Surely a department with such credentials deserves investment, rather than cuts? People in Bangladesh certainly think so, as can be seen both here and in the video below, where they stage their own protest against the redundancies at Stirling:
The Institute of Aquaculture have put people before profit, and in doing so have created jobs, run a school, and helped people in Bangladesh obtain the resources they need to preserve their environment and optimise a major food source. The institute literally educates the illiterate and feeds the hungry – what further credentials can it possibly require in order to avoid attack by University management?
We must continue to fight for the future of education – not only for our students and staff, but for the wider and international community, and all the people who benefit from what universities do. The Institute of Aquaculture at Stirling is a prime example of what education and research can achieve, and provides all the evidence needed in the case for the defense of our universities in the face of cuts.