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25 November, 2004

Solidarity or interference?

Neil reports that a delegation of English students plan to visit Caerdydd next week, to protest against the possibility of Welsh students having to pay top-up fees (as have already been approved for English universities).
I'm scrupulously avoiding expression of my opinions on HE funding itself, but can't support this specific action.

For such purposes, Wales is autonomous, and not subject to the overall UK government in London. That achievement was hard fought (by reasoned debate, not violence!), though is still only a step towards independence (i.e. Wales becoming an independent country within the European Union, as distinct from England as is France; an equal partner, not a vassal).

Some mightn't share that desired objective; fair enough. However, a degree of administrative autonomy does exist already, and demands respect.
This is a Welsh issue, for the Welsh Assembly to decide, hopefully considering the views of Welsh students and universities. Not English students, registered with English institutions - they have as much right to comment as do, say, Polish students studying in Warszawa.

No disrespect to the English or English students, of course - I'd like to think that goes without saying, but will say it anyway!
I just think this is as valid an action as the Guardian's publicity stunt in attempting to influence US voters in Clark County, Ohio i.e. maybe well-intended, but still illegitimate. The English simply don't have the right to lobby the Welsh Assembly on student funding (and vice versa, obviously).

If it's necessary for me to declare my interests: I'm Welsh, and a graduate of a Welsh university, but now work at an English university, though not in a context influencing finances.


As yet there is no English parliament or EnglishNSU to fight for the rights of English students.As the unfair" Barnett formula"is still in place i would say English students have every right to lobby the Welsh Assembly.
Can i also point out that Scottish MPs voted to impose these fees on Welsh and English students in the UK pariliament,most English MPs voted against.

Posted by ben at December 2, 2004 11:12 AM

I don't follow your logic. There's no English Parliament (yet), so English students should lobby someone else's administrative body instead? No.
Representation in England is utterly irrelevant to this exclusively Welsh issue.

I couldn't disagree more - English students have no right whatsoever to lobby the Welsh Assembly.

You're welcome to mention Scottish MPs voting in Westminster on matters affecting the entire UK (as opposed to MSPs voting in Holyrood on solely Scottish matters), but I still don't really see why. What relevance is that to Welsh students, whose funding is to be determined by the Welsh Assembly in Caerdydd, not London or Edinburgh? Student funding is not a single, UK-wide issue. There are individual fights, to be decided individually.

Posted by NRT at December 2, 2004 12:08 PM
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