To The Res-CUSU
Plans to slash bursaries given to Cambridge students have been shelved thanks to CUSU’s campaign.
Plans to slash bursaries were scrapped yesterday, following huge pressure from the Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU).
The University Council had planned to cut the maximum maintenance bursary from £3,400 to £1,625 amidst rampant budget cuts.
After CUSU’s appeal to the Vice-Chancellor Leszek Borysiewicz was rejected, around a thousand students took to the streets of Cambridge, to protest against the move.
There was also a two-day encampment on Senate House lawn in opposition to the plans. Around 40-50 students braved the cold on King’s Parade to show their dissatisfaction with Uni decision-makers.
Borysiewicz initially defied students’ and academics’ calls for the plans to be scrapped, despite receiving nearly six times the required number of signatories to ensure a grace.
But Borysiewicz yesterday made a suprise U-turn. In a statement from a Senate House yesterday a spokesman said:
“The Council has listened to the views of students and others. From 2012, Cambridge will offer an enhanced student support package totalling more than £9 million a year.
“The present Cambridge Bursary Scheme will be continued, offering support of up to £3,500 a year but will allow students to choose between taking the bursary as a fee waiver or a cash sum.”
King’s third year and regular protest-leader Juan Zober de Francisco told The Tab: “Bursaries are apolitcal, and in that lay the strength of this campaign.”
JCR Presidents were able to congratulate their students on the victory in a series of emails.
Speaking to The Tab, Clare JCR President James Tiffin said: “We owe a lot to the CUSU sabbatical officers, especially Rahul [Mansigani], because they have all put a lot of time into this campaign.
“Many people ask what use CUSU is; surely this answers the questions? They represent students where and when it really matters.”
The U-turn from the Council – which also allows students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds a further fee waiver of £6,000 – is in stark contrast to their stance on tuition fee rises.
In spite of a number of protests and an 11-day Occupation of the Senior Combination Room of the Old Schools building, the University refused to budge.
But despite proclaiming: “We have saved our bursaries!” in a CUSU statment, President Rahul Mansigani cautioned students that the fight was not over yet. He said: “we urge all our students to keep campaigning.”
The Council had originally planned to vote on the motion tomorrow, however student pressure was too high to delay the decision.
Mansigani, who was the figurehead of Thursday’s protest, added: “I am delighted that we have forced the University to throw out its plans to cut maintenance bursaries.
“The University has finally conceded that students should have the right to choose how they spend their money.
“Cuts to our bursaries would have been disastrous, preventing thousands of students from fully participating in the Cambridge experience.”
According to de Francisco: “this was yet another Goldilocks moment for the CUSU team – it’s not easy getting the correct temperature amongst the chaos of conflicting opinions, but they struck just the right balance and should be commended for doing so.”