Christian students lobby Archbishops over tuition fees hike

Aileen Few

Aileen Few

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York were met by Christian students campaigning against tuition fee increases when they spoke at the University of Manchester on Tuesday.

Members of the Manchester Student Christian Movement (SCM) sang songs and held placards reading 'Blessed are the poor?' and 'Be in debt to no one (Romans 13:8)'.  They presented a petition to Rowan Williams and John Sentamu calling on them to use their position in the House of Lords and as Church leaders to speak out against the cuts to higher education funding and the hike in fees.

The Archbishops were at the university to deliver a talk on 'Relations Between Church and State Today'.  The peaceful campaign organised by Manchester SCM was supported by SCM nationally.  

Aileen Few, Chaplaincy Assistant at St Peter's House said: "I believe the cuts will discourage poorer people from going to university. This is a social justice issue and we want to show the Archbishops that young Christians care about it and want them to speak out against these cuts."

Later, the Archbishop of Canterbury came and met with the students, listened to their concerns, and chatted for a few minutes, commenting that he had been involved in SCM at Oxford.  The Archbishops did not respond directly to the students' message, and the group say they are awaiting a response to their concerns from the Bishops' offices.  

William Hesson, a student at Manchester University, said: "The Archbishops sit in the House of Lords.  They have a chance to make their voices heard on a very public stage.  Like the prophets of the Old Testament, is it not right that our spiritual leaders should speak out?"

The lobby was supported by the national Student Christian Movement, who have been outspoken in their opposition to the rise in tuition fees and cuts to the educational maintenance allowance.

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